The last press conference of the season started with lots of injury questions, so we’ll start with the specifics there before moving on to the parts where the back-and-forth between Jim Harbaugh and Lowell Cohn turned an unexpected compliment into a funny yet uncomfortable exchange.
— NaVorro Bowman will probably undergo surgery on his torn ACL in two to three weeks, the time it’ll take doctors to decide whether his MCL can heal on its own or if surgery will also be required for that torn ligament.
— Joe Staley suffered a compound dislocation of his thumb in the first quarter and played the rest of the game. He missed only one snap. According to a dictionary site I found, “compound dislocation one in which the joint communicates with the outside air through a wound.” Now there’s a pleasant image. No wonder Staley wasn’t in much of a mood to talk yesterday when the locker room was opened up to the media.
— Harbaugh said Frank Gore suffered a fracture of his right ring finger. He said he was unaware of the injury during the game, and it had no impact on his playing time at the end (Gore was out for the final five offensive plays).
— As reported earlier, Mike Iupati will not require surgery for his fractured left fibula.
— I asked Harbaugh if Andy Lee could’ve punted again in the game after the running into the kicker play, and Harbaugh said he thought he could. However, Harbaugh said he didn’t take the opportunity to re-punt after the penalty because of the way Lee limped off the field.
— The other question I asked was about his mindset after three consecutive seasons have ended with extremely close losses in the playoffs.
“Competitive. Fight new things, be competitive in your work and this is no exception,” he said.
— Harbaugh also provided details from what he saw during the Jeremy Lane sideline collision, but he had no thoughts on Richard Sherman. He said he hadn’t seen any of Sherman’s postgame interviews, but since Harbaugh reads and watches everything I’m not sure I totally believe him. However, it’s understandable that Harbaugh would rather not throw another log on the fire … especially with Sherman virtually standing nearby with a bucket of gasoline.
The rest of the presser was pretty much what one would expect; he repeatedly praised Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the team for “playing their ass off,” talked about the fight his team had, and gave no specifics about future personnel moves (not that we should’ve expected any).
What was unique about this press conference came after Tim Kawakami asked Harbaugh about working out a potential contract extension, a subject Harbaugh always says he’ll never discuss publicly on principle. Harbaugh started on what was probably a prepared statement of sorts about his respect for how the local media has covered the team without malice or intentions of dividing the room.
Of course Cohn, who hacked Harbaugh, Colin “Kaeper-pick,” Frank Gore and Greg Roman to pieces in a recent blog post, had something to say.
Kawakami: Do you expect to be the 49ers coach for many years into the future?
Harbaugh: When that principle changes, Tim, I will …
Kawakami: You’ll call me.
Harbaugh: Well, I’m sure you’ll keep asking. I don’t have a problem with that. I guess a professional note, a personal note, it stood out in my mind how good it is to work with all of you. Weekly, monthly, during an entire season. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, professionally I want to compliment you on just, the way you’ve all handled the news and your accuracy, your professionalism. You’ve reported it. And I know you don’t take sides, or choose up sides. I know you’re very eager to be neutral, but I’ve felt you’ve done it in a very professional way. There wasn’t any time where you tried to divide the team. No malice in the way our media handled the season. I appreciate that. I thought it was fair, tough at times, but fair. But not divisive. I don’t know if you take that as a compliment or not, but I felt like you were on the 49ers’ side as much as you could be in your positions, and I appreciate that.
Cohn: Do you know why?
Harbaugh: Does that make any sense at all, Lowell?
Cohn: Except for being on the 49ers side. We cover. We don’t root. But you know that.
Harbaugh: I understand that that’s your position.
Cohn: But I want to say something else.
Harbaugh: But I felt that the way you covered was very professional, with no malice to try to divide the team.
Cohn: Thank you. I’m sure we all appreciate that. And I would add, you’ve improved. When you first started with us, you weren’t as confident or as forthcoming. And I think one of the reasons we’ve done better is because you’ve done better.
Harbaugh: Thank you, I strive to improve. Improvement leads to success.
A little while later, Mindi Bach asked Harbaugh if he could share anything from the message he gave his players heading into the offseason.
“No. Not so much,” Harbaugh said, then he laughed. “Am I regressing? Am I regressing?”