Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers Will Focus Mostly on New Orleans While Waiting to Learn Their Opponent


The San Francisco 49ers won’t know their opponent in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs until this weekend’s action is over. That won’t keep the No. 2 seed in the NFC from preparing ahead of time. First-year coach Jim Harbaugh says the team will focus on the No. 3 seed, the New Orleans Saints, more than anything, based on the percentages. Whoever the 49ers play, they’ll be a tough draw. Obviously they’ll have the homefield advantage, but the 49ers have also proven to be a tough team to crack based on the fact that they can win in a variety of ways.

Jim Harbaugh joined 95.7 The Game in San Francisco with The Rise Guys to discuss preparing while not knowing a playoff opponent, the team keeping focus this week, his team’s diversity in winning, how the defense has come together, the offensive feats of his group and the potential to add the title of offensive coordinator to his resume.

How do you try to start preparing for the playoffs while not knowing who you’re playing?:

“More of the Saints. The greater part would be preparing for the Saints.” Is that just playing the percentages of this weekend?: “Yeah, it is.”

Is there any room to reflect on a really good season or is it too soon?:

“I think the biggest thing is that it’s not a vacation, first of all. We’re not looking at it as a mid-season type of bye. We want to come back in mid-season form. We want to get the team healthy, we want to get them some much-needed rest and then dominate the details as it relates to studying our opponents, practicing this week, see who we play this weekend and then continue that preparation.”

On knowing that his team can win in a lot of different ways:

“I think that’s how you really go into all these games is whoever we play has the ability to beat us and whoever we play, we have the ability to beat them. … But I think I understand what you’re asking. We’re proud of this team and that it’s had contributions from, really, all facets of the team — offense, defense special teams. We’ve found ways to win games by not turning the ball over and playing great defense. And we’ve found ways to score in the last minute of the game offensively. And we’ve found ways to win on special teams. … That bodes well.”

Do you take special pride in a guy like linebacker Navarro Bowman, who has stepped right in and matured on the spot?:

“No question about it. Navarro has just come in from Day One and doesn’t talk about it, takes a lot of pride in his own personal performance. I think, playing alongside Patrick Willis, they have a great chemistry and camaraderie between the two of them. It’s really a reflection of how the entire defense plays. The front seven really had it going into the year. They’d been together a while. … And then … our defensive coaches really coordinated it … and really got the front seven and the back end, the secondary, playing with the mentality, as a team defense.”

On some of the team’s offensive feats:

“You go back to the history of the National Football League, here’s a team that’s only thrown five interceptions, which is tied for the lowest of all-time. We’ve turned the ball over only 10 times, leading to the great team statistic of +26, +28 turnovers. It’s a great team statistic and it’s the great thing that all are contributing.”

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s name has come up in the Penn State coaching search. If that were to perhaps happen, would you ever consider being the head coach and the coordinator?:

“Yeah, sure. There’s going to be changes in the landscape from time to time. As you can tell, those are the kind of coaches we have on our staff. … We’ll see how it plays out, but Greg’s definitely deserving of that consideration. He’d make a great choice for any college team, or pro team for that matter. … But as far as talking about any jobs, I’ll just concern myself with the one I have.”

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