I admit I’ve been waiting for the chance to write this. I knew the chance would come and it would come quickly because of who Jim Harbaugh is and can’t help himself from being.

While I was on Giants duty, an assignment which took me away from the 49ers and their highly articulate head coach, I read on the internet Harbaugh’s response when reporters asked if Alex Smith had lost confidence. He said, and I quote, “gobble, gobble, turkey gobble, gobble, gobble, funk-jive turkey gobblers.”

I have covered many head coaches including the great Bill Walsh who was quite a well-spoken and sophisticated man, but no one I covered approaches Harbaugh for sheer size of vocabulary, nuance of thought and sophistication.

Well, you know I’m being ironic.

Harbaugh’s disdain for the media is his business and if he wants to invoke turkeys to say writers are jive turkeys, that’s his business. I have been called a lot worse than a jive turkey.

It’s just that today Harbaugh addressed reports that Aldon Smith got jumped outside a restaurant. Here is the Q&A that took place at Harbaugh’s Monday presser which I took off the web:

Did you talk to Aldon and are you satisfied with what happened?

HARBAUGH: I personally tend not to believe everything I read on the internet. Trent Baalke talked to Aldon.

Q: Are you fine with what happened?

HARBAUGH: What’s been related to me and any conversations are private conversations.

Q: Are you saying that what was reported is false?

HARBAUGH: No, just exactly how I said it – I tend not to believe everything I read on the internet.

Q: So Aldon’s standing on the team is fine?

HARBAUGH: What Aldon said to us was the same as what he said publicly. You tend to take a man at his word.

OK, that was the Q&A. Now it’s my turn to say, turkey, turkey, gobble, gobble, funk-jive gobbler.

When Harbaugh calls writers gobblers he needs to look in the mirror. He almost never answers a straight question with a straight answer. He makes things hard on himself. He gobbles. Asked if he’s satisfied with what happened with Smith, he refuses to answer. Instead he makes a statement about the internet.


Asked if he’s fine with what happened, he says he doesn’t discuss private stuff, although he’s already begun to discuss it.


Asked if what’s been reported is false, he again says he doesn’t rely on the internet. But again he doesn’t answer the question.


Asked about Smith’s status on the team, he says you tend to take a man at his word. Again he does not answer and the word “tend” invokes all kinds of doubt.


Harbaugh would have been better off saying he did not want to address the subject at all. Journalists understand that. He did not need to do all that gobbling. He may think journalists are gobblers but, come on, he is the King Gobbler, a 200-pound self-baster.

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  1. RYD

    Question in general baseball managers seem to be able to talk and work with the media. Football coaches far less so, note Jim H, SIngeltary, Parcells to name 3. I understand the NFL is just 16 games and MLB is 162+ but even in a lose and go home game as the Giants were in or a game 6 WS baseball managers seem to be able to handle it far better.

    Any insight

    November 5th, 2012 1:52 pm

  2. CohnZohn

    RYD, I actually find the answer puzzling. It seems in recent years the NFL mentality is that they are at war and the media is an enemy, or at least not helpful. I find this point of view disgusting.

    November 5th, 2012 2:02 pm

  3. Stan

    You deleted my post? WHAT wasnt true?

    November 5th, 2012 2:23 pm

  4. CohnZohn

    Stan, excuse me but I didn’t understand a word of it.

    November 5th, 2012 2:29 pm

  5. Mark M

    Glad you are back on the Niners. They deserve the scrutiny they get here in the Bay Area given their popularity. The overall softness of the media covering the Niners is obnoxious. You could hear the media laughing while Harbaugh was calling them turkeys to their faces. Amazing!

    November 5th, 2012 2:50 pm

  6. Dennis

    Lowell, I loved the post and I am glad you are back on the 49ers but with all do respect, you sound like my wife. No matter what I say she always tells me how I should have said it so she would dislike what I had to say slightly less. The bottom line is the press would still complain if he said he didn’t want to talk about it. That is just the way it is.

    The Harbaugh gobble, gobble thing came through a lot better on video than on paper. I thought it was pretty funny actually. Smith and his confidence, or lack there of, appeared to be completely fabricated by the press (I think Grant was in on it). It got to the point, it appeared, where the press made up their own story about Smith’s confidence, or lack there of, as if it were fact. Then they expected Harbaugh to comment on it like it was a real story.

    I have about 8 wild turkeys come through my backyard on occasion. One starts to gobble, than an other and pretty soon they are all gobbling and no one has a clue as to what they are talking about or if it is even true.

    But I must say, your retort above was both funny and fair

    November 5th, 2012 3:17 pm

  7. Brodie2Washington

    I think it’s the old “audience, audience, audience” thing. Harbaugh only speaks for the benefit of one audience… 49ers players, coaches and management. He cares little if the public, reporters or opposing teams don’t like (or even understand) what he has to say. It can get pretty comical. Forgive a little paste from an earlier comment from me this year…

    Love the way Harbaugh avoids the use of the word “I.” Imagine someone asking Harbaugh what he had for breakfast…

    “There was toast… excellent toast. Elite toast. Great toaster. A four slicer. Would not have it any other way. Brand? Does not matter. Proctor Silex, GE, doesn’t matter. Were’ focused on the toast. There were eggs. Juice. All standard. White or wheat? Sorry. Not answering any fiber related questions. Enjoy breakfast? Always enjoy breakfast…”

    November 5th, 2012 3:18 pm

  8. Bray


    I’ll try to keep the answer short. Baseball is a long slow grind with lot’s of time to react to what is happening each game. Football is 16 short, intense battles that time flies by, much more to manage. Therefore, GM-Coaches will and should be much more close to the vest with their strategies and personnel decisions. The pace of the games are different, I think the coaches follow suit in their personalities.

    Harbaugh knows exactly what he’s doing, being a coaches son, 15 year NFL player, brother of another NFL coach. He has a ‘game plan’ with the writers, sometimes he ‘executes’ the game plan better than other weeks, just like the rest of us. I find him very refreshing as opposed to the company man lines that 80% of coaches deliver.

    November 5th, 2012 4:26 pm

  9. B-Rad

    And you love it!

    How many posts have you written about Harbaugh’s primitive handling
    of the press. A dozen?

    Contrast that with the zero, or so, posts that you’ve referenced the
    pleasantly affable and straightforward answers of Dennis Allen.

    We probably would all rather have Dennis Allen as a next door
    neighbor, but Harbaugh’s interviews are more fun.

    November 5th, 2012 7:07 pm

  10. Jack Hammer

    A 200lb self baster! That is the best take on that I have heard yet. Great stuff Mr Cohn.

    November 5th, 2012 7:17 pm

  11. Johnc

    Harbaugh is not satified with being just an ordinary baster. He wants perfection and will not rest until he is critically acclaimed by the prsess corp as a master-baster.

    November 5th, 2012 9:53 pm

  12. Tommy CostaRica

    Who’s got it better than us? Nooooooooooobody! That’s because we first had Singeltary, aka “The Rev” He was the saddest excuse for a head coach the NFL has ever seen. He was so deer in the headlights he was a national joke who provided great material for Saturday Night Live. Many of his interviews wound up on YouTube and were talked about on sports pages everywhere.
    Then before Harbaugh came we had Jed York and his so called nationwide search for a general manager. As I remember we all had fun talking about the lying rich kid and his new toy, the 49ers!
    Now we have Jimbo and he’s the best! His quotes are everywhere. The “Nooooooobody” routine even reared its head as a baseball slogan and wound up on international TV during the World Series.
    The gobble is classic and what makes it great is he sings it with all his heart! He’s the real deal. I love to watch him on the sidelines after penalties he is the most intense coach I’ve ever seen.

    November 6th, 2012 5:37 am

  13. Shane

    Lowell, what you’re saying is the NFL and its fans need a lot more non-committal coach speak blather?? I know Harbaugh might be tough on you guys in the media, but at times gems like this are funny and fun to talk about. whereas 99% of what’s said in every other pressers is snooze material mixed in with lousy military and motivational cliches.

    Lighten up and enjoy it!

    November 6th, 2012 8:18 am

  14. mark decker

    Lowell….as I have said a few times now he is just scared of himself and that is why he watches his words sooooo carefully and doesn’t expand on anything….I think he knows he is a loose canon and my guess is on his way out or even at his stay at stanford the powers at be warned him of being such an arse……I know you have a job to do but I simply would choose one of the following routes: a) stop going to his pressers….b) be the one that pushes him over the edge and take the right hook that he is going to deliver….I think his run as a head football coach ends in disgrace( no matter how good of a coach I think he is)….He will grab someone by the neck at some point and he knows it and is just trying to delay it

    November 6th, 2012 8:25 am

  15. CohnZohn

    Shane, Thanks as always for your insights. I enjoyed Harbaugh’s turkey talk and I certainly hope he enjoyed my take on it, delivered in the same spirit.

    November 6th, 2012 9:24 am

  16. Streetglide

    Harbaugh is a national treasure. Blind Tom wants to write him in for Senator. Only problem is who would coach the Niners?

    November 6th, 2012 10:37 am

  17. Bray

    WOW Mark, couldn’t disagree more. It’s the coaches that give the same answers week in week out that are scared. He’s anything but scared. He’s determined to get it done his way, that’s all. I don’t think you can fault a man for that.

    November 6th, 2012 11:52 am

  18. David

    The same questions seem to be asked over and over. Could it be there are too many people with press credentials all trying to get a story? I read the other day that there were 900 press passes issued for a LSU game. How can there be that many stories to be written? I notice that reporters ask a question and then the same question is asked, with different variations, over and over.

    November 6th, 2012 12:13 pm

  19. CohnZohn

    David, Here is a learning opportunity for you. Five reporters cover the Niners on a daily basis. Five. Do you think that’s too many?

    November 6th, 2012 12:18 pm

  20. David

    No 4 is not too many but I see more than 4 in the post game interviews? How many press passes are issued for any 49er game? How many bloggers who have press passes? I “know” that 900 for a college game is too many. I believe the local paper would give me a press pass if I asked for one, would that give me access to the 49er’s?

    November 6th, 2012 12:33 pm

  21. CohnZohn

    David, I revised the number up to 5. True there are more for games than during the week. Some are media that cover the visiting team and others are local tv and radio. I don’t know the number but I don’t think it’s more than the number that covered the Niners in the 80s. I don’t believe Harbaugh is overworked or overtaxed with his media commitment. It’s part of the job. He makes it harder on himself than he has to.

    November 6th, 2012 12:47 pm

  22. mark decker

    Again…I think my take is right…he is soooo guarded because he is scared of what he might say….not for the enemy but for his sake…..he knows he is not all there and hence if he starts talking he may make a major mistake…..he doesnt want ANY bulletin board material( unless it helps him and the team) and he also doesnt want any journalist to run with something that may have a semblance of reality….he makes NO assumptions of what a journalist is asking not because he is simply a jerk its just cause he doesn’t want to provide any newsworthy stories whatsoever……look…this is all irrelevant…if he trots alex smith back out there next training camp he’ll start losing his team( more likely he start losing his offensive assistants…yeah the ones with the “plan” to keep throwing kaep in there to try and get first downs….)…..

    November 6th, 2012 3:17 pm

  23. Loneraider78

    Harbaugh is probably the most competitive coach in sports–not a bad quality for your HC to have.

    I think part of him enjoys being combative with the media, and I don’t fault him for it one bit.

    Read some of those questions back.

    “Are you fine with what happened?” Huh?

    Is he fine with one of his players being jumped outside of a restaurant? Uh, I would say no he’s probably not fine with it, but considers it team business and not the medias.

    I could go on and on with this topic but I won’t.

    He should’ve just said what LC said:
    “I don’t want to address that subject”

    But then again, I think he’s tried that before and gotten nowhere.

    Brodie said Harbaugh doesn’t care about the public. Huh?

    You know how a HC shows he cares about the public? By winning games. WHO CARES ABOUT WHAT’S SAID AT THE PRESSER!! BIGGEST WASTE OF OXYGEN EVER!!

    If you think otherwise then go watch one of Belichick’s.

    November 7th, 2012 7:13 pm

  24. KauaiRobert

    If we’re winning…who cares?!

    November 8th, 2012 3:05 pm

  25. CohnZohn

    KauaiRobert, You may be “we,” but I am not we in the sense you mean. I don’t like it when anyone is consistently demeaning or rude. Do you?

    November 8th, 2012 3:18 pm

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