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Seahawks S Earl Thomas to Jim Harbaugh: Happy birthday, that’s what you get

Jim-Harbaugh-Pete-CarrollThe Seattle Seahawks were fighting for more than just playoff position when they destroyed the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night. Pride was also at stake.

Earlier this season, the Niners won a hard-fought 13-6 battle against the Seahawks. After that game, Seattle safety Earl Thomas says Jim Harbaugh gave the Seahawks’ bus a sarcastic salute as he drove away from the stadium. On Sunday, which also happened to be Harbaugh’s 49th birthday, Thomas slung some sarcasm back at the Niners coach.

“Happy Birthday — that’s what you get,” Thomas told Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports. “Yeah, he [honked at us]. It seems like he tries to be a professional in front of the camera, but he does his antics, like that, when the cameras aren’t around. He’s just a big kid. We don’t worry about that stuff. We just play the game. The best team won [Sunday], and it was convincing.”

There was the honking incident, and there is also the long history between Harbaugh and Pete Carroll that dates back to their days at Stanford and USC. Harbaugh’s Cardinals held a 27-point lead over Carroll’s Trojans late in a game back in 2009, and Harbaugh decided to go for two. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who had a similar “happy birthday” message for Harbaugh after the game, wanted Carroll to return the favor on Sunday when Seattle held a 42-6 lead.

“I’m not gonna lie to you,” Sherman said. “I told Pete, ‘Let’s score and go for two.’ He said, ‘We have more class than that.’”

It’s easy to get the impression that these are two teams that don’t feel any fuzzy feelings toward one another, and there are many reasons why. Should they meet again in the playoffs next month, the rivalry would make for great entertainment.

Jim Harbaugh indicates 49ers have quarterback controversy

Colin Kaepernick played extremely well in the 49ers’ 32-7 win over the Chicago Bears on Monday in place of Alex Smith, and coach Jim Harbaugh indicated after the game that the team has a quarterback controversy.

Asked after San Francisco’s easy win over Chicago about the starting quarterback situation, Harbaugh made it seem like Kaepernick has a shot to remain the team’s starter.

“I usually tend to go with the guy who has the hot hand. We got two quarterbacks who have a hot hand,” Harbaugh said after the game.

When pressed on the question a second time, Harbaugh allowed the possibility of a change.

“We really have two guys that have a pretty hot hand. We’ll make that decision as we go forward.”

Kaepernick, a former second-round pick a year ago, went 16/23 for 243 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start. He also rushed for 12 yards on four attempts. He was sharp with his passes and looked in command of the team. He also made good use of Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis, who had six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Davis seemed to indicate he’d like Kaepernick to remain the starter.

“I felt like somebody took the handcuffs off me,” Davis said after the game, per Matt Maiocco.

Smith missed the game after being concussed against the St. Louis Rams in Week 10. He was 7/8 for 72 yards and a touchdown before leaving that game. The previous week, he went 18/19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns in a win over the Cardinals. Though he was playing well, Kaepernick seems to make the offense more dangerous than he does. It seems like Vernon Davis agrees. We will see if Harbaugh does.

Jim Harbaugh on Alex Smith doubters: It’s just a lot of gobble, gobble, turkey

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is already in the mood for Thanksgiving. He had turkey on the brain following a dominating 24-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night, but it had more to do with his quarterback carving up a defense than someone carving a bird.

Alex Smith looked as sharp as he has all season, torching the Cardinals for 232 yards and three touchdowns. He completed an astonishing 18-of-19 passes and finished with a near-perfect passer rating of 157.1. The performance inspired one reporter to ask Harbaugh if a game like this helps lay any confidence issues Smith may have had to rest.

“I don’t think there was ever a question there,” Harbaugh responded. “I think it’s just a lot of gobble, gobble, turkey.”

I beg your pardon?

“Just gobble, gobble, gobble, turkey from jive turkey gobblers,” he continued. “I think that paints a pretty good picture of it. He’s a very confident guy.”

Harbaugh has backed Smith since the day he took over as head coach in San Francisco, even vehemently denying that the Niners ever had any interest in Peyton Manning this past offseason. Like last season, the Niners have arguably the best defense in the NFL. Smith has done a solid job of protecting the ball and is completing nearly 70% of his passes. If he continues to play well, all the jive turkeys out there could be questioning him all the way to the Super Bowl.

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Photo credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

Jim Harbaugh declines safety against Seahawks, affects outcome for gamblers

The Seahawks put the final nail in their coffin on Thursday night when they were called for a chop block in their end zone with under a minute left to play, giving the Niners a two-possession lead. Or, should we say, it would have given San Francisco a two-possession lead had Jim Harbaugh not declined the penalty.

The play also happened to be 4th down, and Seattle came up short of the first-down mark on its completed pass. Instead of accepting the penalty and taking the safety, Harbaugh took the result of the play and had his offense take the field for a kneel down. Same outcome for the 49ers, entirely different outcome for the sports gambling world.

San Francisco was favored by anywhere from 7 to 8 points before the game began. Harbaugh’s bizarre decision resulted in a push for many gamblers and was the difference between a win and a loss for others. According to R.J. Bell of Pregame.com, an estimated 65% of the money on the game backed San Francisco while 35% backed Seattle. That would mean an estimated $75 million was transferred from the hands of bettors into the hands of bookies as a result of the decision to decline the safety.

The good news for the NFL is that this time it’s on Harbaugh. Unlike with this guy who won a fortune on the infamous blown call in the Seahawks-Packers game, Thursday night’s unexpected swing was not the result of poor officiating. It may have been a head-scratching move from the Niners coach, but such is life when you bet on sports. No refund will be handed out this time around.

Jim Harbaugh says replacement officials gave him a ‘headache’ against Texans

As expected, the NFL’s replacement officials have been a popular topic of discussion throughout the preseason. Just as replacement players who are filling in for holdouts do, the guys in the stripes have experienced some rough moments over the past couple of weeks. A few of those moments came during the Niners-Texans game on Saturday night.

There were several calls during the game that infuriated San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, including the officials’ decision to let the time run out at the end of the first half despite a defensive penalty being called against Houston that the Niners accepted. After the game, Harbaugh did something the NFL has ordered teams to not do — he blasted the replacement officiating crew.

“Big interference call in third quarter was some big yardage on that drive,” Harbaugh said according to CSNBayArea.com. “I don’t know. It’s interesting. I don’t have the pulse on this game. What was it exactly? Us? Them? Some crazy, wild calls. Were they accurate? Weren’t they? We’ll see. I have a headache (from yelling), though. I have a darned headache. A lot them didn’t seem like they were in the ballpark.”

Harbaugh ripped the officials after previously stating that he would not be commenting on that officiating “per instructions” from the league. Obviously he was angry enough about it that he simply couldn’t resist.

With the NFL and NFL Referees Association reportedly not making any progress toward a new deal, you can expect this situation to get even uglier as the regular season draws nearer. If coaches and players are already upset over the officiating when the games don’t matter, just imagine the reaction we’re going to see come Week 1.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Jim Harbaugh blasts media for criticizing rookie A.J. Jenkins

The 49ers are going to try to establish a better passing game this season, and first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins is expected to be a significant part of the plan. By adding Jenkins, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, San Francisco is hoping their offense can become more dynamic and Alex Smith can be more effective throwing the ball. However, there has been some indication that Jenkins has not impressed in offseason workouts. The San Francisco media hasn’t exactly been blasting the rookie, but apparently they have said enough to infuriate Jim Harbaugh.

“For those scribes, pundits or so-called experts who’ve gone as far to say he’s going to be a bust, they should just stop,” the Niners coach said Sunday according to the San Jose Mercury News. “I recommend that because they’re making themselves look clueless, more than they already did. A.J. is going to be outstanding.

“I’m going to keep track of these names of so-called experts who are making these comments. And there’s going to be an ‘I-told-you-so.’ I foresee that happening.”

For his part, Jenkins said he has “no hard feelings” toward anyone who has said negative things about him and that he embraces criticism. Harbaugh has never been shy about defending his players, as evidenced by the comments he made about Smith last season and the way he denied that the Niners ever pursued Peyton Manning. In all likelihood this is just a way for Harbaugh to give an important rookie some confidence heading into the season.

Jim Harbaugh denies pursuing Peyton Manning ‘it’s phony, erroneous’

It’s confirmed: Jim Harbaugh could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. Or at least he’d try to if it was in the best interest of his football team.

The 49ers coach spoke to the media on Wednesday and attempted to spin the reports that said the team pursued Peyton Manning in March.

“There’s a perception out there, and it’s an erroneous perception, that we were flirting with Peyton Manning,” Harbaugh told the media, unprompted. “I keep hearing that over and over. It’s silly and it’s untrue. It’s phony. Even the perception that we were pursuing him — we were evaluating him.

“I’ve said all along that Alex Smith has been our quarterback. There’s no scenario, other than Alex choosing to sign with another team, that we would consider him not as our quarterback.”

Let me get this straight: Jim Harbaugh admits 49ers were looking at Peyton Manning, but the extent of their interest in him comes down to the way you define the words “evaluating” and “pursuing.”

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