A day after the untimely passing of his former teammate, Junior Seau, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh spoke to KNBR Thursday about the lasting impression Seau left on all those he encountered.
As he revealed in a statement on Wednesday, Harbaugh traded jerseys with Seau in the San Diego Chargers locker room following Harbaugh’s final game as a player. The two were teammates during the 1999-2000 seasons and Harbaugh recalled Seau’s engaging and generous personality.
“He had time for everybody,” Harbaugh said. “From the lowest guy on the totem pole right up to the owner and everybody in between. It’s just a very sad, sad time. My family’s thoughts and prayers go out to Junior and his family.”
Harbaugh also discussed other topics during the interview with Tom Tolbert, including the impressive showing of 49ers to the voluntary offseason program so far. For the 49ers coach, there are few things better than having his players at team headquarters getting ready for another season.
“It feels like a family reunion,” Harbaugh said. “You’re so excited and you see guys that haven’t seen in a couple of months. It’s just like the old family reunion back in Ohio where my family used to go.”
Harbaugh is also excited to see his new rookie class come to town. The organization made a big splash with its first two 2012 draft picks, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and running back LaMichael James, and Harbaugh said he’s happy to add them to a “big, strong, fast team.”
“Both of those guys are not just fast,” Harbaugh said. “They’re impeccable on the field and they’re great guys off the field. I can’t wait to have both in our building.”
While the 2012 season opener at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers is more than four months away, Harbaugh is already telling his players to focus on the game. As soon as the 49ers heard they were starting the season at Lambeau, Harbaugh and his staff popped in Packers game tape.
But it’s not just film study that Harbaugh uses to get an edge on opponents. Harbaugh also told Tolbert he enjoys reading sports psychology and motivational books, while likening football coaching to a game of chess.
“You’re trying to think a move ahead, two moves ahead, three, four,” Harbaugh said. “If we could just possibly think four moves ahead or five moves ahead, then we’d be in a pear tree. We don’t have the capability to be like Bobby Fischer and think 12 moves ahead, but reading is knowledge.”
Harbaugh has plenty of former coaches and mentors to look up to. Off the top of his head, Harbaugh listed influences like former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka and Indanapolis Colts coaches Lindy Infante and Ted Marchibroda. But, of course, Harbaugh said his father Jack is the greatest coach he’s ever been around.
As for his brother John, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, Harbaugh said he hasn’t had too many sibling scuffles in recent years. In fact, it’s been more than two decades since the two Harbaugh brothers last wrestled.
“Nineteen hundred and 89 would be my best guess,” Harbaugh said. “I was 22 or 23 and he was 25 and we were on a family trip in Jacksonville, Fla. We were wading in the water out there – body surfing or whatever we were doing – and the next thing I know we’re wrestling around. It was wrestling in the ocean.”
Tags: Jim Harbaugh, KNBR
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