San Francisco 49ers Jim Harbaugh spoke to the media on Thursday about how his offense is preparing for the week, and what the week has been for him and his players heading into their meeting withe the New Orleans Saints on Saturday.
Q: Jim, what would you ideally like to see out of your offense on Saturday?
Harbaugh: "A lot of things, a lot of things. Score more points than the Saints, number one. Execute, move the ball, not turn it over. And then quite a few other things."
Harbaugh spoke of the importance of home-field advantage:
Q: Jim, this team worked really hard to get home-field advantage for the playoffs. When you're taking a group, many of whom have never played in the postseason, into a playoff scenario for the first time, how important is it to have that home field where everything stays the same during the week, the preparation, they're going to their own stadium, how important is that going to be for them?
Harbaugh: "Well, I think it's an advantage. They work very hard for it. They earned it. And they get the benefit of that. So, it's not to say that teams don't win on the road in the playoffs, because historically they do. But, I think our team goes into this game confident and bold and with a great amount of respect for the New Orleans Saints team as well. Great amount of respect for who they are, what they do, and what they're capable of."
And about the playoff atmosphere around the team:
Q: Are you focused and loose?
Harbaugh: "I am. I feel like I am. But you know what, it just never really matters that much how I am, or just a coach. Just going to be standing over there on the sideline. To me it's the players. Where are they at in their preparation, their understanding of this game plan, and what their morale is, how they feel physically. If they feel good, I feel good."
Q: But don't they take cues from you? If you seem tense and uptight wouldn't they be?
Harbaugh: "I kind of go off them. Like I said, I ask guys all the time, how do you feel? And they say, well how do you feel coach? And I say, well how do you feel? You feel good, I feel good. That's kind of how I look at it. Doesn't matter how I feel, it's how they feel."
Next Harbaugh went on to discuss Alex Smith and how he is heading into this matchup:
Q: But how does QB Alex Smith feel? Alex is pretty clear he's not in it to out-stat Saints QB Drew Brees. That's not the point of this. How important of a step was that do you think for any quarterback, particularly Alex? That it's not you versus the other guy, it's not about you putting up 300 yard games. Just win the football game.
Harbaugh: "How important is that? I think that's very important. I think there's a confidence there. There's a confidence in your own ability. There's a confidence in your team and confidence in your preparation and your plan, and again, your teammates. That you're part of it. You're part of it. You're a cog. And he's a big one. The biggest one on the team because he handles the ball every single down. And it's no different on our team than it is on other teams. He does the most out there. He's got a lot on his plate and probably by the nature of the position, he touches the ball every single play. And I think that it's not a feeling, it's a confident feeling in your team that you don't have to do more than what the team asks you to do."
The team may have some offensive weapons/plays yet to be unveiled, which Harbaugh spoke about:
Q: Do you think there is a risk of trying to do too much in a game plan for a playoff game?
Harbaugh: "I think every game is different. Every game has its own separate identity. Its own season almost. 16 game plans, 16 different games. Now this is 17. Our approach to it as a coaching staff was to try to get to know the Saints as well as we possibly could. Do the best job that we could of putting together a game plan, in all three phases, that our players would be the most successful in. I feel confident in that. Also, in the fact that our players have understood and practiced it. Combed through it. Troubleshot it pretty thoroughly. Feel confident. Feel like our players can therefore go out and just play. Not have to think as much. There's a lot of thinking, there's no question about it, but when they know it, they practice it, then they can play and react at a fast tempo."
Q: Former Saint C Jonathan Goodwin brings some playoff experience with Pro Bowl and Super Bowl. How important is that to this team where you have so many guys who have never been in a playoff game before?
Harbaugh: "I don't know. We haven't really made that monumental of a deal out of it. Who's been in the playoffs, who hasn't? Is that a good thing, is that a bad thing? How much does playoff experience count? We've got guys that had never been there, that's for sure. But, maybe that's a good thing. They haven't been there. It's like kids that haven't played a game in a long time. They're excited to do it. Like I said, I think where we're at right now mindset that they can go into this game confident and bold and they're ready to play. They're ready to go."