Jim Harbaugh avoids talking to his oldest son, a Ravens intern


The Harbaugh brothers are getting most of the attention this week in New Orleans, and the Harbaugh parents even had their own press conference, but a member of the next generation of Harbaughs has managed to keep a low profile.

Jay Harbaugh, the oldest son of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, is at the Super Bowl working as a coaching intern for the Ravens, where his boss is his uncle, Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh. Jim Harbaugh says he’s proud of his son but also trying to stay away from him this week because he understands that Jay’s job is to do everything he can to help the Ravens beat the 49ers.

“I’m really thankful and proud at the same time that Jay is doing what he loves to do,” Jim said of his son. “John being there and hiring him, I hear he’s doing a phenomenal job. This week I haven’t been talking to him or calling him or anything — sent him a few texts just to tell him how I feel but I don’t want people thinking I’m talking to him about the game. I’ve heard he’s done a great job and that means the world.”

John Harbaugh said his nephew is doing good work for the Ravens.

“I’m appreciative that Jim allowed Jay to come out,” John said. “Maybe that will be our edge, maybe it’ll be Jay. He’s really good. He’s a hard-working guy and he’s excited about the game and competing.”

As a coaching intern, Jay works with the Ravens’ video staff and the strength staff. And on Sunday, he’s rooting for the Ravens to beat his dad.

Ravens, 49ers share practice field at Saints facility


The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers shared the same practice at the same time Thursday at the New Orleans Saints practice facility.

According to John Clayton of ESPN.com, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh elected to move their team’s practice from the baseball field at Tulane University where they held practice on Wednesday to the Saints headquarters that has been housing the 49ers.

The NFL partnered with the Saints and local businesses to obtain enough drapes to create a partition between the two sides of the practice field. They also blocked off the windows from the weight room as did everything they could to create two separate and secure practice venues. John and Jim Harbaugh worked together to devise a plan for each team to get the space and time needed to prepare.

Per Clayton, the practices only overlapped by approximately 10 minutes.

Jim Harbaugh raves about the 49ers’ Super Bowl week practices


On Thursday morning, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said that the 49ers were coming off a perfect Wednesday practice, and he wanted an exact duplicate of that later in the day. On Thursday afternoon, Harbaugh said his players had exceeded his expectations.

“I thought yesterday was outstanding, but today was a photo copy of that,” Harbaugh told pool reporter John Clayton after Thursday’s practice. “In some ways, it was maybe a little better. I’m real pleased, real pleased.”

The 49ers did about 70 minutes of work on the Saints’ outdoor practice field and then 30 more minutes in the Saints’ indoor facility. The indoor work included kicker David Akers making all his field goal attempts while his teammates were yelling and making noise to try to distract him.

“That’s the first time they ever have done that in two years,” Harbaugh said of the noise. “David made all of them, which was even better. His mechanics are real good. That bodes well. Good things will happen for us in that area.”

If the 49ers play as well as they’re practicing, good things will happen in the Super Bowl.

Bisciotti on Flacco contract: Trust in Ozzie


Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has a message for any Ravens fans worried about quarterback Joe Flacco’s expiring contract.

Have faith in General Manager Ozzie Newsome.

During an appearance on the NFL Network, Bisciotti made it clear that he had faith in Newsome to work things out so that Flacco remains in Baltimore. While a long-term deal would probably be everyone’s preference, Bisciotti said that he trusted Newsome to make the right call for the team.

I read yesterday that Peyton Manning went two years under the franchise tag before they finally got his long-term deal. So that’s for Ozzie and his agent to figure out,” Bisciotti said. “Joe and I kind of sit on the sideline and we tease about it a little bit. We really don’t get that involved in it. I trust Ozzie, it’s always been done. They asked me about this with Ray Rice. They asked me about this with Haloti Ngata and on down the line and we’ve always signed them. So Joe’s going to be here. Trust in Ozzie.”

If reports that Flacco is looking for “Drew Brees money” prove true, the prospect of using the franchise tag might become more realistic since those negotiations would likely take a while. That might not be ideal for the Ravens in terms of their overall cap picture, but it remains clear Flacco isn’t going anywhere.

Ravens move practice to Saints’ facilities


The practice plan for Super Bowl week was for the 49ers to use the Saints’ facilities, and the Ravens to use Tulane’s facilities. But it hasn’t quite worked out.

After the Ravens tried to make do Wednesday on a baseball field at Tulane (whose football facilities are going through construction renovations), the Ravens have worked out an arrangement to use the Saints’ facilities today. Although Ravens coach John Harbaugh praised the people at Tulane for doing their best as a host, he later confirmed that the baseball field simply isn’t working for the Ravens, and they’ll use the Saints’ facilities, too.

Ordinarily it wouldn’t work for both teams to share practice facilities, but John Harbaugh called his brother, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, and worked it out so that both teams could get some time on the Saints’ practice field.

“This wouldn’t have worked out if the coaches didn’t know each other,” John Harbaugh told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.

Some Ravens players said the turf at Tulane’s baseball field was too hard, and that the wide receivers and defensive backs felt it in their knees when running. So after the 49ers have cleared out of the Saints’ facility, the Ravens will take it over on Thursday afternoon.

Ayanbadejo thinks Culliver’s words “pretty normal” in NFL

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Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo was nearly as popular a media target this morning as Chris Culliver.

But the long-time advocate of gay marriage said he’s not surprised to hear the homophobic message that landed Culliver in the spotlight this morning, and hopes that having apologized, Culliver can grow as a person.

Asked about Culliver’s initial suggestion that a gay player wouldn’t be welcome in the locker room, Ayanbadejo replied: “It’s pretty normal, it’s pretty normal behavior.”

Ayanbadejo has long preached a message of tolerance, and said Ravens teammates know there aere certain things they might think that they just don’t say around him. But he acknowledged that seeing Culliver under such scrutiny and being forced to apologize will do more to curb overt examples of exclusion than anything he can say from a positive perspective.

“I think in San Francisco, and being from the Bay Area myself, we really try to preach love and acceptance of everybody,” Ayanbadejo said. “I couldn’t really say anything negative to the young man. It’s just one of those things you have to live and you have to learn. In the words of Martin Luther King, ‘you can’t fight hate with hate, you have to fight hate with love.’

“We’ve all made our mistakes, we’ve done certain things and we’ve hurt people if we meant to do it or not. But more than anything, it’s an opportunity to have a learning experience. . . .

“We’ve kind of seen that happen this time. we just have to all learn from this mistake. He apologized, and hopefully he’ll learn. He’s in the Bay Area, so I think he’s going to learn and he’s going to grow and be a better person for it.”

The truth of the matter is, there are many players who believe the same thing Culliver said, he’s just the poor devil who got caught saying it.

The real question becomes whether the public shaming drives the issue further underground, and makes it harder for the league to accept an active gay player.

Ted Ginn would like more catches, but he won’t complain

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Ted Ginn has done essentially nothing on offense for the 49ers, catching just two passes for one yard during the 2012 regular season. So it’s no surprise that when Ginn was asked today if he’d like to have more of an impact on offense, Ginn answered, “Yeah, for sure.”

But Ginn says he’s not going to complain about his role on the offense (or lack thereof) because he understands that if the 49ers just want him to play as a punt and kickoff returner, that’s what he needs to do.

“Most of the time when you’re on championship teams, you have to sacrifice. Look at LeBron [James] and Dwyane Wade and [Chris] Bosh, they’re all number one picks,” Ginn said. “But when they had to come together as a team, they had to give up something. You just have to give it up. I’m not saying you can’t do it anymore, but just not at that time. There might be somebody else that can do it better, or it’s the right time for them to do it. So, you just go out and control what you can control, and you play the game.”

Part of the reason that Ginn can appreciate the opportunity he has in San Francisco is that in his first career stop, in Miami, things didn’t go as planned. Ginn was the ninth overall pick of the 2007 NFL draft, but he never developed into the kind of receiver the Dolphins expected him to be. Ginn said he knows some people consider him a draft bust, but he can’t worry about that.

“I can’t help what was going on with my team at the time. I control what I control. My first year, I had eight quarterbacks,” Ginn said. “If I’m a bust, I’m a good bust.”

Even if Ginn is never going to be a good enough wide receiver to justify being a Top 10 draft pick, a return touchdown on Sunday at the Superdome would go a long way toward erasing the perception that he’s a draft bust. After all, Desmond Howard was a Top 10 draft pick who never amounted to much as a wide receiver, but when people look back at his career, they don’t remember that. They remember him returning a kickoff for a touchdown at the Superdome and being named Super Bowl MVP.

Bo Schembechler looms large over the Super Bowl

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Bo Schembechler retired from coaching 23 years ago and died six years ago, but he’s a major presence at this year’s Super Bowl.

Jack Harbaugh, the father of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Ravens coach John Harbaugh, was an assistant to Schembechler at Michigan for seven seasons. Jim was Big Ten Player of the Year as Schembechler’s quarterback at Michigan in 1986, and although John wasn’t a player or coach for Schembechler, he spent a lot of time around the program while Jack was an assistant and has mentioned Schembechler’s influence several times this week — as have his father and brother.

“I see Bo’s fingerprints all over the Raven football team and all over the San Francisco 49er team, and there could not be anyone that you could better emulate,” Jack Harbaugh said on Wednesday.

Jim Harbaugh said that the only person who might have been a bigger influence on him than Schembechler is his father.

“Next to my dad, right on the same level as my dad is Bo Schembechler,” Jim Harbaugh said. “He is one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game.”

John Harbaugh was asked today about an odd phrase that he and his brother have both used: “Grind the meat and rattle the molars.” That’s a phrase that Schembechler used to describe the run-first offense and physical blocking style that he coached.

“That’s Bo,” Harbaugh said. “When Michigan would be ahead, Bo would get on the headphones and say, ‘It’s time to grind some meat.’ That means it’s time to run the ball, four minute offense and run the off-tackle play. And ‘rattle the molars,’ that’s trench warfare in football up front. That’s football.”

For Bo Schembechler, seeing the Harbaugh boys coach against each other in a tough, physical, run-first football game would be heavenly.

PFT’s Super Bowl picks


We’ve finally reached the end of the road.  After 256 regular-season games (I won by 11) and 11 postseason games (MDS is up three), it’s time to pick a winner in the Super Bowl.

So without further adieu, here are our predictions on one of the hardest Super Bowls to predict.

And, yes, we disagree.

MDS’s take: There wasn’t a single point in the regular season when I would have said the Ravens were a better team than the 49ers. Baltimore had a better record than San Francisco during much of the first part of the regular the season, but the 49ers looked like a more impressive, more complete football team than the Ravens. And down the stretch in the regular season, the 49ers got even better after replacing Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick, while the Ravens lost four of their last five to close out 2012. So the only way I could pick the Ravens now is if I think their three-game playoff run has shown that they’ve become a significantly better team. And while I do think the Ravens are playing their best football at the right time, I simply don’t see them as better than the 49ers on either side of the ball.

When San Francisco has the ball, the running of Frank Gore and LaMichael James is going to pose big problems for the Ravens’ defense. (And the running of Colin Kaepernick will be a nice bonus for the 49ers.) When Baltimore has the ball, the San Francisco safety combination of Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson is going to make it tough for Joe Flacco to do what he likes to do best, attack opposing secondaries deep downfield. I do expect Baltimore to have a decided special-teams advantage in this game, but I don’t think that’s going to produce enough game-changing plays to make the difference. The 49ers are the better team, and they’ll hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Ravens 17.

Florio’s take:  I’ve gone back and forth all week on this game.  When I convince myself that the 49ers will win, I think of the reasons why the Ravens will prevail.  And then I think of the reasons the 49ers will prevail.  And then I think of the reasons the Ravens will prevail.

And then I wish there could be ties in the Super Bowl.

I’ll agree with MDS on one point — if the 49ers win, it likely will be by seven or more points.  For the Ravens, it likely will be a close game with one score deciding the winner of the Lombardi Trophy.

The 49ers are the better team on paper.  But the Broncos and the Patriots were the better teams on paper, too.  And the Ravens just keep winning.  The offense has improved, and the 49ers pass defense has dipped in recent weeks, with a less potent rush and safeties who seem to get caught flat-footed all too often.

The Ravens defense will need to contain Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore.  The concern is that, if the Ravens figure out a way to solve the read-option in a way that keeps both from burning them, Kaepernick will pull the ball back out and fire a pass to Randy Moss, who will lollygag off the line of scrimmage before sprinting down the field.

Still, there’s something about the Ravens this year, between the impact of Ray Lewis and the emergence of Joe Flacco and the reality that, after this season, Baltimore could have some rebuilding to do.  For the 49ers, they could be back on a much more regular basis.  In the end, there’s a good chance that each Harbaugh brother will get a ring.  For now, the first-born son becomes the first one to hoist the trophy.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 30, 49ers 27.

Vernon Davis wishes he thanked Mike Singletary for benching him

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When Mike Singletary took over as head coach in San Francisco in 2008, one of his first actions was benching tight end Vernon Davis in the middle of a game because he thought Davis was putting himself above the team.

Davis wound up getting the message and credits Singletary with setting his career on the right track by teaching him that lesson. He said that he regrets never getting a chance to thank Singletary, who was fired during the 2010 season, for telling him there was more to playing the game than worrying about your own stats.

“I remember the very first time he kicked me off the field. Tears were shed. I told him, ‘I want to be traded Coach.’ He said, ‘OK. I’ll find another team for you.’ That moment, it started to click for me. It made me a better man, a better teammate and a better leader for my team. It helped me become the player I am today,” Davis said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “I never really had an opportunity to tell him how much it meant to me. By the time I looked up, he was gone. That fast. I am very grateful.”

Singletary’s tenure in San Francisco was not successful, but several players that he either developed or help break into the NFL are playing essential roles on this year’s 49ers team. That probably means that Davis isn’t the only one with a debt of gratitude to pay for a guy who’s now looking for a second chance to lead an NFL team.

Players, coaches sell Super Bowl tickets in violation of NFL rules

In 2005, then-Vikings head coach Mike Tice found himself in hot water for reselling Super Bowl tickets, which is strictly prohibited under NFL rules. But a new report says that plenty of other players and coaches still sell their Super Bowl tickets.

In a long look at the market for scalping Super Bowl tickets, the New York Times reports that league employees, players and coaches reselling their Super Bowl tickets for a profit is still a relatively common practice.

That’s a blatant violation of NFL rules: Players and coaches can buy tickets at face value to use for themselves or give to friends and family, but they are told in no uncertain terms that they are not to scalp the tickets for a profit. If the NFL finds out about a player or coach selling tickets for profit, that player or coach will be in big trouble: Tice was fined $100,000 and two Vikings assistants were fined $10,000 apiece in the Super Bowl scalping scandal eight years ago.

The New Orleans Police Department says cracking down on scalping is not a high priority during Super Bowl week, as the police are more concerned about fraudulent sales of phony Super Bowl tickets. But even if the law won’t crack down, the NFL will — if anyone gets caught.

Toomer unloads on Ray Lewis, calling him a caricature and a hypocrite

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Plenty of words can be used to describe this year’s Super Bowl week.

Boring isn’t one of them.

Former Giants receiver Amani Toomer, who currently has a show on NBC Sports Radio Network and contributes to Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network, used plenty of words to describe Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis to Mike Garafolo of USA Today at the media center on Wednesday.

It’s definitely all about him,” Toomer said of Lewis.

“Once a guy goes to the center of the field, goes into the victory formation on the last play of his last home game . . . .  I just don’t think the Giants or any organization I’ve ever been a part of, even growing up, would allow somebody to single themselves out like that.

“If you single yourself out after you make a play, that’s one thing.  But to walk out on the field reminds me of the WWE, like The Rock coming out.  You’re becoming a caricature of yourself.  It’s exhausting.  I don’t know why somebody would want that.”

Toomer also talked about the discrepancy between Ray Lewis the Man of God and Ray Lewis the man who was accused of double murder and who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and who has still never publicly answered this simple question, which anyone with a pulse is qualified to ask:  “Ray, what happened that night?”

“If you want to say you’re Mr. Religious and all of that, have a clean record.  Don’t say all of that stuff if you know there’s stuff that might come back,” Toomer said.  “Those are the things that, when I look at him, I just think hypocrisy.”

Powerful stuff.  And Toomer didn’t even talk about deer-antler velvet extract.

Which should never be confused with deer-antler velvet Elvis.

Chris Culliver still apologizing, surrounded by reporters


The Chris Culliver interrogation is ongoing as we type, with a throng of reporters surrounding the previously unknown 49ers corner after his homophobic remarks made him the hottest property at the Super Bowl since deer antler spray.

Culliver apologized profusely for his remarks to comedian Artie Lange, in which he said he would not want a gay teammate in the 49ers locker room.

Culliver said repeatedly “that’s not what’s in my heart,” and “I’m sorry if I offended anyone,” and invoked a number of conversations with people close to him, from his mother to unnamed gay relatives.

But he denied that he meant harm to any current or future gay players, or to the city he works in which has a significant homosexual population.

Asked if he was concerned that he’d be forever labeled as a homophobe, Culliver shook his head quietly and said: “No . . . I mean, hopefully not, that’s why I’m doing this today.”

What he was doing was effectively the act of contrition, saying the same things over and over, and looking like a man who’d rather be anywhere else in the world.

The 49ers stationed him at a table near the edge of the hotel ballroom where interviews are being held, the same table he sat at Wednesday when no one wanted to talk to him. They did move teammate Tarell Brown, so he wouldn’t be crushed by the horde of cameras and reporters.

Other players, the 49ers’ actual stars, were at podiums nearby, with team and league logos slathered across the backdrops.

Culliver, wearing his jersey and a 49ers ski cap, was left to go it alone, repeatedly apologizing and saying he didn’t mean the thing he said, and hoping it all goes away.

Jim Harbaugh says Chris Culliver is “not a discriminatory person”

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A Super Bowl week controversy erupted when 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver said a gay player wouldn’t be welcomed on the 49ers, but coach Jim Harbaugh says that Culliver’s comments don’t reflect the kind of person he is.

“There’s not malice in his heart. He’s not an ugly person. He’s not a discriminatory person,” Harbaugh said. “I really believe that this is something that he’ll learn and grow from.”

So why did Culliver say what he said? Harbaugh said Culliver was speaking without thinking, and that it wasn’t until he sat down and read the transcript of the comments he made to comedian Artie Lange that he realized he was wrong.

Harbaugh said he had spoken to Culliver but declined to get into any specifics about what he said. Harbaugh also reiterated what the team said in its statement, which is that the club rejects what Culliver said.

Culliver will meet the media this morning.

Jim Harbaugh says the 49ers had a perfect Wednesday practice


San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh says practices don’t get better than the one the 49ers had on Wednesday.

Asked at his press conference on Thursday morning what he’s hoping to see at Thursday practice, Harbaugh said he’d like a practice just like the 95-minute session that the 49ers had at the Saints’ indoor facility in Metairie, Louisiana, on Wednesday.

“I would really like to have a photocopy of yesterday,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what I would like to have today. The execution at practice, the energy at practice, a photocopy — a mimeograph — of what we had yesterday, that would be outstanding.”

Harbaugh made a specific point of singling out the scout team and the practice squad players for simulating what the Ravens do to prepare the 49ers. Harbaugh certainly sounds like he thinks his team is ready.