49ers look for answers after loss at Baltimore
So much for that popular Harbaugh family catchphrase, ”Who’s
got it better than us? Nobody!”
It had a different ring for Jim Harbaugh on Friday.
John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens absolutely had it best
Thursday night. No cross-country travel to play on three days’
rest. No meetings or film sessions on an airplane. No hostile
environment against them in prime time.
Still, Jim Harbaugh accepts the fact his San Francisco 49ers
(9-2) might have lost to his big brother regardless – even had it
been a Sunday game in Candlestick Park with a full week to
”The fact that we were the road team and we had to travel
across country, that put us at a competitive disadvantage,”
Harbaugh said Friday of the 16-6 defeat. ”I’m not whining, I’m not
making excuses, it’s just the truth. We knew it, we had to overcome
it and we weren’t able to. And that was a good football team. I
think it will make us stronger going forward.”
The Harbaugh brothers typically speak on the phone once a week
to rehash their respective games. Sometimes it’s Sunday night, or
perhaps Monday because of the time difference, and occasionally not
Jim is unsure when that conversation might take place after
Baltimore snapped San Francisco’s eight-game winning streak in the
hyped-up game that marked the first time in NFL history siblings
opposed each other as head coaches.
”I don’t have a plan,” the first-year NFL coach said.
There are more pressing matters at the moment than friendly
family chats. Such as figuring out what happened with an
overmatched offensive line that allowed nine sacks of Alex Smith.
The NFC West-leading 49ers made their share of mistakes to miss key
Harbaugh insists his team will learn from it. He knows the loss
stung for his players, who are closing in on the franchise’s first
playoff berth and winning record since 2002.
They hadn’t lost since a 27-24 overtime defeat to the Dallas
Cowboys in Week 2, so that had to feel a little strange. And San
Francisco had won its initial four road games, all on the East
”Not everybody feels the same. Everybody’s different,”
Harbaugh said of the reaction. ”I’m not a psychologist and wasn’t
going around checking the whites of everybody’s eyes to see how bad
they felt or didn’t feel. The men put a lot into it. They were
disappointed. That I could see. They’ll bounce back. This is a team
that’s a resilient team and we’ll learn from it. …
”It’s easy to second-guess. We felt like we were playing pretty
Harbaugh acknowledged in this case there were multiple problems
that led to the sacks on Smith. The offensive line took its lumps –
and plenty of criticism – in the early weeks of the season, but
made significant strides since to more consistently protect Smith
and give him ample time to make plays.
”To put it frankly, we played bad today on the offensive
line,” left tackle Joe Staley said in Baltimore. ”Guys didn’t
come to play today. Disappointing effort. I feel like we let our
Harbaugh broke it down this way: three sacks resulted from being
beaten on protection calls, three in which the 49ers were outplayed
physically, and the others cases where Smith held the ball too
”There were probably three or four of them where Alex was
slippery as heck and got out of there, avoided the pressure,
avoided the sack, picked up yardage with his feet or got the ball
thrown away,” Harbaugh said. ”You go back and you look at what we
could have exploited better, what we can learn from it in terms of
scheme and play-calling, etc., so they’re all good learning
The 49ers play four of their final five games within the
division, starting with next Sunday’s home matchup with St. Louis.
There’s also a Monday night game at Candlestick on Dec. 19 against
the Steelers. The three road games are against each division
opponent: the Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals.
Harbaugh gave players the weekend off. They will get back to
Right guard Adam Snyder’s status for the game against the Rams
is unclear after he strained his left hamstring in the first
quarter Thursday. Chilo Rachal replaced Snyder the rest of the
”We believe in Chilo Rachal,” Harbaugh said. ”I don’t know
exactly where it stands at this moment. But, no, I don’t fear it.
Adam’s a guy who bounces back quick and Chilo’s up and ready to