49ers will use playoff bye week to get healthy
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh made one thing clear
Monday: A playoff bye week is nothing like the break teams get at
Still, the NFC West champions are relishing some extra prep time
considering all the players trying to get healthy ahead of the
franchise’s first playoff game in nine years.
”It feels like an advantage. How big, we’ll see,” Harbaugh
said of the extra week. ”I know this: We’re not going to treat it
like a vacation. It’s not a midseason bye, in my view, where you
can afford to come back in midseason form. We’ll treat it as such.
We’ll get the players some well-deserved rest and the coaches will
work hard on game planning and familiarizing ourselves with
potential opponents. And we’ll look forward to two good days of
practice this week.”
Harbaugh did acknowledge Monday he spoke about the schedule with
big brother, John, the Baltimore Ravens coach whose team also gets
the opening week of playoff games off as the AFC’s second seed.
”Compared notes,” Harbaugh said. ”Some things are the same,
some are different.”
Many of the 49ers (13-3) are banged up and sore, so that’s an
Linebacker Patrick Willis is working to return to top form from
a right hamstring injury, while star running back Frank Gore has
dealt with nagging knee and ankle injuries. Tight end Delanie
Walker has a jaw injury and Ted Ginn Jr., a hurt left ankle.
Rookie cornerback Chris Culliver bruised his left knee in
Sunday’s 34-27 win at St. Louis and was limping through the locker
room a day later. Wide receiver Kyle Williams is recovering from a
Walker, whose jaw was believed to be broken though Harbaugh
hasn’t confirmed it, is scheduled to be re-evaluated Wednesday
before the team determines whether to keep him on the roster for
the playoffs or place him on season-ending injured reserve.
For now, the 49ers coaches and players will spend their time
watching film of the potential opponents for their Jan. 14 game at
Candlestick Park, where San Francisco shocked the Giants in its
last postseason appearance – rallying from 24 points down to stun
New York 39-38 in the NFC wild-card game in January 2003.
The Niners already can envision a possible date with New
Orleans, which whipped San Francisco 24-3 in the Big Easy back in
the teams’ August exhibition opener. That seems like so long ago
Atlanta or the Giants are the other possible matchups.
While the 49ers were hardly in a celebratory mood after nearly
letting the Rams rally for a late victory Sunday after leading by
21, they do feel good about their position heading into the
postseason. The team’s 10 total turnovers this year – five fumbles
and five interceptions by Alex Smith – match the 2010 New England
Patriots for fewest in the NFL since 1941.
”Winning the ballgame felt better by the hour,” Harbaugh said.
”They found ways to win games all through the season. When you
look through the body of work, the evidence is there. The team
should be proud of that. I think one of the great things about this
2011 team is their ability to find ways to win, finish games. The
evidence is there. And it’s good to win in different ways.”
Right guard Adam Snyder, for one, planned to stay in town and
continue to work all week at team headquarters. The 49ers will hold
a workout Wednesday then resume their practice routine
”There’s nowhere for me to go. We have some of the most
important games that we’ve had coming up, so the bye week is nice
for rest but there’s still some business that we have to take care
of. That’s important to me to be here,” Snyder said. ”I think any
time you get rest it helps. Some of the games we’ve played have
been very physical, so any rest we can get is going to help for
Williams plans to be back in the mix this week, and Harbaugh
said he expects his special teams standout on the field once
”I feel back to normal,” Williams said.
Williams was jarred on a helmet-to-helmet hit by former 49er
Michael Robinson after a fourth-quarter kickoff return in a 19-17
win at Seattle on Dec. 24. Robinson was penalized for unnecessary
No hard feelings on Williams’ part toward his ex-teammate and
”He’s an aggressive football player and he’s a great football
player. If I’m aware in that situation I’m looking out for him
because I know he’s coming out to hit,” Williams said. ”Guys told
me he said a prayer over me and was making sure I was OK. When I
got up it was a little foggy. I do remember him asking me if I was
Notes: Harbaugh said he has told QB Smith the team wants to
re-sign him beyond this season. ”I told Alex, `Hey, we’re going to
want you to come back here next year,”’ Harbaugh said. ”He’s
focused on the season, and that’s where his mindset wants to be.
And I totally respect that, and we’ll talk about it and address it
once the season is over.” … Mike Harrison, the agent for
offensive coordinator Greg Roman, said Roman is on the ”short
list” for the Penn State job. ”We should know in a week or so,
that’s our best guess,” Harrison said.