I think I know San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. I spent all of last season covering the team and was a part of every press conference the coach held with the media. His way with the media is a very unique one but to me, it all made sense. I’d say I believe I have a good grasp of what he’s all about.
Yes, he doesn’t like to talk about injuries or other players. In fact, he knew that if he limited the media access to the bare minimum, that would excel his work as a head coach. I didn’t agree with it, but I understood it.
So when Harbaugh brought up the topic of Peyton Manning (assuming he did this because of Jon Beason’s comments), it was Harbaugh being Harbaugh again. He made sure that the media had it all wrong and he was right.
“Yeah, like I said, there was interest,” Harbaugh told reporters. “We evaluated it, pursued it, or we evaluated it and there were conversations. I’m not going to go into all those personal conversations. But there was nothing said to Alex that was not said to Peyton Manning or in-house here, on the record, off the record.”
Harbaugh would go on to say that it was “phony” to have the perception of the 49ers pursuing Manning. It was merely an “evaluation” in his eyes. None of this comes as a surprise.
The head coach has established himself as one that likes to make bold statements. If not a bold statement, at least saying something that he believes will help the team win.
Every move that Harbaugh has made since becoming the 49ers’ head coach has been part of his attempt to build the team up. From praising Alex Smith during the lockout to being hands-on during practices, Harbaugh believes that what he is doing will help the team win.
And he has the history to back it up. His track record of success at the University of San Diego and Stanford proves that he knows how to win. His turnaround last year with the 49ers validates everything he did in his first season with the team.
He has been right in nearly every move he’s made in his coaching career. He believes this move in clarifying the situation is another checkmate in his game of chess with the media. This is what he’s done before and he’s done it again. This is what we all have come to expect from Harbaugh.
Even though what he did in terms of “evaluating” Manning seemed more like a pursuit, it really doesn’t matter how it’s interpreted. What Harbaugh knows is that anytime his team is criticized, he goes out to protect the players. Whether it’s Beason attacking Smith through Twitter or the media hoping to get a scoop on the team’s latest injury report, Harbaugh is there to make sure that nobody in the organization is harmed or perceived wrong.
Harbaugh is a protector. He’s a player’s coach. This is what he does for his team. This is what he views are the necessities of being a good head coach. He says what he needs to say to boost the team’s confidence and to protect them.
I don’t know if Harbaugh himself truly believes in what he said about Manning. Maybe he does. But it’s obvious that he knows why he said it. There was a purpose behind it.
And from what I think I know about Harbaugh from covering him for a year, that’s why he made those comments. And as long as his comments keep us guessing, he believes he’s done his job as a head coach.