GREEN BAY, Wis. — San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh wasn’t interested in talking specifics leading into Saturday night’s playoff matchup with the Green Bay Packers. He wouldn’t discuss the 49ers’ kicker battle or how veteran David Akers is handling the competition, he responded in a Twitter-friendly 140 characters when asked about a 42-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16 and wouldn’t dive deep into the ways in which he’s assisting quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his first career postseason game.
But one point that Harbaugh made clear in his Tuesday teleconference is how good he thinks the Packers are.
“Our biggest concern, our biggest challenge, our biggest task is the Green Bay Packers,” Harbaugh said when asked a question about a different topic. “That’s where the greatest area of concern is. I can remember back in high school football and sometimes in college football, too, I remember this, even in little league football, coaches used to say when we were talking about preparing for an opponent — I remember Bo (Schembechler) doing this and same with my high school coach — getting ready for an opponent and Bo saying, ‘These guys are good, but they’re not the Green Bay Packers for God sakes.’ And here we are playing the Green Bay Packers.
“So, our biggest challenge is preparing for a great team.”
It’s likely that Harbaugh is intentionally choosing his words carefully and opting to say only positive things about his team’s next opponent. But the fiery coach certainly seems to be fond of the Packers.
“I think they’ve consistently been the best team in football over the last handful of years,” Harbaugh said. “They’re extremely well-coached, well-prepared. (Defensive coordinator) Dom Capers, I have the utmost respect for his ability to coach and teach a high volume of scheme to his players. They have the ability to blow up plays in your backfield. Rarely are they out of position, and it’s hard to predict what they’re going to play schematically from down to down.
“Offensively, special teams, this is consistently the best team in football over the last handful of years.”
Despite Harbaugh’s glowing endorsements of the Packers, the 49ers were the better team this season. San Francisco beat Green Bay in Week 1 at Lambeau Field and finished with an 11-4-1 record, just slightly ahead of the 11-5 Packers. That slight difference in record is the reason San Francisco earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs, bumping Green Bay to the No. 3 seed.