Former 49ers radio color analyst Eric Davis discussed a reason why Jim Harbaugh could be to blame for the team’s rash of off-the-field incidents.
Via Fox Sports:
Davis spoke on this topic on Friday morning, and here is the link to the NFL.com video. When asked if he had ever seen anything like what has happened to the 49ers, Davis replied:
“No, I haven’t seen anything like it, but what I think people need to understand is that part of the reason — I think there was a belief, and I’ve talked to some people on the ground — there is a belief that players — just like they used to throw their towels and dirty laundry on the floor in the locker room and leave their trays out in the (cafeteria) and wait for somebody else to clean up their dirt — that that was a metaphor for what they were doing off the field.”
Davis then pointed to Harbaugh’s dual nature as the potential cause.
“As hard as Jim Harbaugh was on his guys on the field, he was sort of coddling off the field. He allowed those guys to do some of those things. And I think that’s part of what the belief is now with the organization, is that they are moving on from that.”
I’ve been in a few locker rooms, and the 49ers’ locker room didn’t seem any messier than any of the others I’ve seen. Granted, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to count the number of towels and jerseys on the floor.
I have three questions about what Davis said, what it means, and where it might be coming from.
1. Since when does picking up after one’s self keep someone from breaking the law during their free time?
I’ve known a thousand slobs in my life, and none of them drove drunk into a tree or were accused of domestic violence.
2. Who are the “people on the ground”?
This seems rather important. If we’re talking players, then we have something. If Davis got this from current coaches or executives, it seems all too convenient to blame an unmatched stretch of arrests and embarrassing incidents on Harbaugh’s inability to keep the players from tidying up after themselves.
3. Where have I heard this before?
Oh, yeah … Jim Tomsula’s introductory press conference on Jan. 15, 2015!
“First of all, when we talk about discipline, to me, I see discipline as a good word. I think that the connotations we give to discipline is a negative connotation. It’s an action or a reaction to an action. Discipline to me is a way of life. We talk about it. Think big in small ways. I know it sounds petty, but it’s the way you handle a meeting, or on the road in the hotel, everybody, ‘Hey, pick up your stuff.’ I know that sounds really small, but it starts adding up. To me, it’s big picture stuff in real small ways. Pack your own bag for the game. Don’t forget your shoes. We’re talking elementary, but those are things that are big. Now when you talk about the overall picture with the discipline of the team, that’s been made very clear. That’s been made very clear to the team. Again, I’m not going to get into past incidents, but that’s not the way we’re going to conduct business moving forward. That’s been made very apparent. That has been made black and white. People do make mistakes. Things like that get handled accordingly. And I think one of the things that excites me about our organization is having the reaction to fit what it is, but also the proactive approach that our organization is doing.”
It’s pretty clear where this is coming from, and Davis appears to be keeping that bridge intact in case Tim Ryan isn’t the team’s color analyst forever.
As far as Tomsula’s future, we’ll see what happens this year. By all accounts, he’s run a pretty solid training camp. Clean, even!
But anonymously chastising Harbaugh after the fact for a lack of locker room and cafeteria discipline seems silly. Winning is what matters to this team, right? Didn’t Harbaugh win? If winning wasn’t the No. 1 priority, wouldn’t the 49ers have cut Aldon Smith after his second or third offense instead of his fifth? Or put Ray McDonald on paid leave after he was accused of domestic violence the first time? Or made some sort of decision on Ahmad Brooks by now? Tomsula’s team may keep the locker room staff happy and the trays in their correct places, but that’s not going to mean much — to the fans or his bosses — if they don’t win.