“I think a lot of you think it’s a cliché that we’re really just focused on getting better. Being better tomorrow than we were today. Being better today than we were yesterday. That’s how we’re judging success, so we didn’t put any limitations on ourselves or any things like that. We’ll just keep moving on with that plan, improving. Not changing but improving.” “Thought it was a great win for our team, great thrill of winning. We take the next step. It was a step. I feel like our team performed well, competed hard.”
--Jim Harbaugh, first-year head coach of the NFL San Francisco 49ers, responding to questions from the media about the team’s 4-1 start in the 2011 regular season and the quick turnaround by his team.
Coaches’ Mindset Extends to the Team
"You act like your coaches," said 49ers tight end Delanie Walker, whose 26-yard scoring reception got the 49ers rolling in their latest victory over Tampa Bay. "We are going to keep our heads, keep our cool and make smart decisions. When other teams make bad decisions, we capitalize on that." "I love the fact that he motivates us and has us ready to win every game," wide receiver Michael Crabtree said of Harbaugh. "It's like the will to win. It's not just focusing on one person. Everyone has the same goal in mind."
‘‘You can just tell the attitude difference. Everybody has a plan, a direction of what they want to do. Those guys played hard for [former coach Mike] Singletary, but they certainly play hard for Harbaugh. They certainly show a sense of urgency to go out and win this year. And it’s no different from what you would get any time you get a new coach. Harbaugh has done a wonderful job with these guys, and we look forward to going out there and having a good game.’’
--Raheem Morris, head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucanneeers, before his team played the 49ers.
Team Not Surprised by Fast Start
"It might be surprising to the outside," left tackle Joe Staley said, "but it's part of the culture that Harbaugh is instilling. We don't care about what anyone says on the outside. If they respect us. If they like the way we play, if they don't like the way we play. It's all about the guys in this locker room and believing in one another. That's what we're doing."
QB Alex Smith: Staying Loose and Focused
"Alex is a strong-minded individual," tight end Vernon Davis said. "He's struggled in the past but he's headed for success. He's taking advantage of his opportunities. He knows there's a possibility he'll get hit from all sides and he still wants to make the play." "He has the ability to stay loose and focused at the same time," Harbaugh said. "He plays with a calm demeanor." "He studies the game plan and the opponents' structure," Harbaugh said. "He's smart, talented and doesn't rattle easily. He makes good quality decisions."
Team Confident about the Future
"It's about getting into rhythm and staying together as one," tight end Vernon Davis said. "What I saw last week I had never seen before. I saw that this team has what it takes to go all the way." "Just top to bottom, collectively," quarterback Alex Smith said. "It's a completely different mindset, a different attitude."
Taking It One Day and One Game at a Time
“Across the board,” Harbaugh said after the victory over the Bucanneers, “I thought it was an outstanding day by our team.”
49er running back Frank Gore called his team’s winning performance as, “another step.”
It’s the first time he’s been 4-1 as a professional athlete, and Gore wasn’t getting ahead of himself, either.
“It takes steps,” Gore added. “It takes the right steps and we’re just going to keep getting better and better. “The longer we keep taking the right steps, and that’s taking steps forward, we’re going to keep getting better.”
Excerpts from ESPN.com, AJC.com, SanFranciscoChronicle.com, modbee.com, 49ersblog.com and sports illustrated.cnn.com (October 7, 9, 10, and 11, 2011).