San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is all about shaking things up, that's why he decided to have his team stay at Youngstown State in Youngstown, OH this week instead of flying back home or to the East Coast before facing the Eagles this Sunday. It's a team bonding experience that he hopes will bring the team together, as well as pay some dividends down the road.
Coach spoke to the media Wednesday after practice, alluding to the importance of this trip and of the city of Youngstown itself:
Do you try to keep this week normal or do you want everyone outside their comfort zone a little bit?
"I like the part that it's changing of the routine. Sometimes the normal business-like routine sucks the life out of everybody. I like that part of it. There are so many good opportunities here that you really don't have in San Francisco as it relates to friendship. Getting to know maybe one or two other guys better than you did before. Know two or three things about them that you didn't know.
It definitely seems like the college vibe Harbaugh is trying to push is important to him. You should 'go to war' with guys you know, and knowing everyone better can only add to team continuity. Can continuity equal wins? It certainly doesn't hurt, but you still have to put in the work, which they are most definitely doing at Youngstown State.
When you first knew this was going to happen, was it easy? Has it been an easy transition to move the entire, so to speak, complex here to Youngstown?
"Everybody's really busted their tails to do it. The staff has been great setting things up and everything has been organized. That's easy for us to do, I like doing stuff like that. Coaches, players, we're pretty adaptable. We're kind of like big kids, this is like being in little league. And then when guys are done with practice, they're not heading to their cars and heading home, they're here around each other having meals and watching Monday Night Football.
The 49ers are a midwest team at heart, and with football's roots right down the street in Canton, OH Harbaugh was amazed by the 49ers love there is back East:
Obviously this is in the middle of Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Are you surprised how many 49ers fans are here in Youngstown first of all and, second of all to see that 49ers logo on the DeBartolo building if you haven't seen it already. What did that mean to you?
"It means a lot. I had a chance to be here in the summer and take part in a fundraiser that the family was putting on. I got to see the passion for the 49ers and the long history of following the team, which was very exciting. So no, it wasn't a surprise when I got here. It was when I got here back in June. Every time I had ever visited here to recruit, my perception was this was all Ohio State and Notre Dame country, and good luck getting a player out of here to go to Stanford or anywhere else but those two schools. I would say Ohio State, Notre Dame, and the 49ers."
Hopefully this all will produce some winning football in the City of Brotherly Love this weekend, though it undoubtedly has made the team more of a unit already.
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