Here is a link to my Monday column about the Niners’ win over the Cowboys. The full text runs below:
Jim Harbaugh is a worthless coach who has lost control of the 49ers’ locker room, and the veterans can’t stand him and won’t play for him.
That’s what we learned hours before the 49ers murdered the Dallas Cowboys 28-17 on Sunday in that temperature-controlled thing that looks like an airplane hangar.
Forget about starting the season with a dominating win. That doesn’t seem to matter. The 49ers players just won’t play for the coach. A writer named Ian Rapoport made these revelations on NFL.com, the official organ of the league, the official organ of the owners. Rapoport tweeted all kinds of stuff. Look at these two sample tweets:
“49ers sources believe coach Jim Harbaugh is already losing the locker room Veterans wonder: Is he really all in?”
“According to sources I’m speaking with including many in the 49ers locker room Jim Harbaugh may already be losing the players.”
When a team makes the Cowboys look like a Pop Warner team, has the coach – Harbaugh – lost control? I don’t think so. But I do think something is screwy here, screwy on the Niners. I’ll get back to that screwiness in a minute.
First, I want to know this. Did Harbaugh lose the locker room when San Francisco linebacker Dan Skuta forced Dallas running back DeMarco Murray to fumble in the very first minute of the game, and Chris Culliver ran the fumble back 35 yards for a touchdown? Please tell me if that’s when Harbaugh lost his players.
Or did he lose them a few minutes later when Colin Kaepernick almost got sacked, a defender grabbing the back of Kaepernick’s leg, and Kaepernick stumbled and miraculously righted himself and threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis? Please tell me. Was that when Harbaugh lost the locker room? I really want to know.
Or maybe Harbaugh lost the entire team when his safety Eric Reid picked off Tony Romo and ran the ball back 48 yards and, on the very next play, Kaepernick hit Davis for yet another touchdown. And it was still just the first quarter. Please tell me that’s when Harbaugh lost the team because I desperately need to know.
Or did he lose the 49ers players when his defense intercepted Romo three times in the first half and made him look like a scared beginner? We’re talking Tony Romo here. Is that when Harbaugh lost his team? Please tell me.
Or did he lose the 49ers when his team ended the first half leading Dallas 28-3, the game already over, the second half a mere footnote? Is that when Harbaugh lost this season’s Niners? Tell me. Please.
This you should know. I take these unfortunate tweets seriously. I really do. From what I know, Rapoport is a reputable journalist. I doubt he made this stuff up. Somebody told Rapoport something – somebody in the 49ers organization.
I wonder who blabbed. Was it Jed York? Are he and Harbaugh locked in mortal combat over Harbaugh’s contract? I haven’t got the foggiest idea. If York talked to the tweeter, what was his motive?
Was it Trent Baalke? I don’t know. You hear Baalke and Harbaugh don’t get along – they haven’t come to me for counseling and I’m in the dark about their relationship.
Are some players tired of Harbaugh? Could be. On every team a number of players tire of the coach, especially an unrelenting grinder like Harbaugh. If some 49ers are tired of Harbaugh, nobody cares. Players don’t have to like the coach. Liking is irrelevant. Players have to play for the coach. That’s the whole deal. Play your hearts out for the guy. On Sunday, the 49ers played for Harbaugh, played like world champs.
I’m saying Harbaugh didn’t lose the locker room and I’m saying he didn’t lose his players. I’m saying somebody talked who doesn’t have a clue.
Harbaugh came to the interview room after the game. I raised the losing-the-team topic and others followed up.
Me: I read on NFL.com this morning that some of your players are getting tired of you and you’re beginning to lose the locker room. Have you noticed anything like that?
Harbaugh smiled. “No. No. Our players will go to hell and back for us, for the team. They’ll come tell me if they’ve got a problem. They’ll talk. Or if they’ve got a way of doing something better, an idea, they know they’ll be heard.
Q: Did any player come to you recently? The Baltimore practices were mentioned as something they didn’t like.
A: No. I don’t trust the report, either.
Q: Do you have any idea where this stuff comes from?
A: Again, I’m saying I don’t think it comes from our players because we’ve got the kind of relationship where they come and talk to me. They have consistently in the past. If they’ve got an idea or something they don’t think is right or something they think we can do better, they come and talk to us. That’s what I see from our players.
Q: Considering all the adversity, the injuries, the arrests, the suspensions, all of the stuff in the preseason, how encouraging is this in trying to set the tone to get back on track?
A: It’s very encouraging. There’s been a lot of opinion. This game was about steel in the spine, and when it comes to 49ers players, that’s where they excel. They’ve got titanium in the spine.
Q: Do you have titanium in your spine?
A: If they do, then I do.
Q: Have you been bothered by the conversation the last week?
A: The rhetoric and the opinion, no. That’s talk. Sometimes, people hate you. Sometimes people love you. A lot of times they don’t even know you. Some people think you’re good. Some people think you’re bad. That’s opinion. That’s talk. This was a game. This was a chance for our players to show what they’re made of. Titanium in their spine.
Nice quotes from Harbaugh. Two comments from me. The players started out with steel in the spines, but that quickly morphed into titanium. Will a kind reader please tell me which is stronger, steel or titanium?
Harbaugh said his players did not spill their guts to NFL.com. He emphasized that point. But he may believe someone else in the organization spilled. He also said he doesn’t trust the report. That can mean the writer made up things. I doubt that. Or it could mean whoever spilled is wrong.
I point this stuff out because I am a journalist and it is my job to parse what people say. Harbaugh is exquisitely aware of what he means and does not mean. He’s as good at choosing words as he is at coaching.
Final thought on Harbaugh after Game 1. You hear Harbaugh is hard to get along with, is demanding, is maybe a pain in the neck. All that may be true. For all I know, he could be a complete load in 49ers’ headquarters. But he wins. He rescued the franchise.
And that means these tweets, these revelations coming from 49ers sources are so tawdry. It’s like someone in organization wants Harbaugh to fail. What an awful time to say this stuff. What a crummy way to start season.
I’ll tell you this. Cowboys’ coach Jason Garrett should be so lucky to lose his locker room like Harbaugh lost his. Dennis Allen should be so lucky to lose his locker room like Harbaugh lost his. Almost every coach in the league should be so lucky.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.