49ers’ Harbaugh eyeing some quick fixes
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jim Harbaugh wants his 49ers to “close ranks” and get “things” corrected quick.
How, pray tell, do they do that?
“We’ve got a week to get it fixed. Sunday at 1 o’clock,” Harbaugh said Monday, alluding to the 49ers’ next game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Levi’s Stadium.
“That’s the challenge for our ballclub. We’ve been in this position before, where there’s ebbs and flows to the season. We’re in it now.”
The 49ers may have started a second straight season 1-2, but their back-to-back defeats this time offer a different vibe, the result of giving up second-half leads in both games.
Players were angry, speechless, confused and frustrated after Sunday’s 23-14 road loss to the first-place Arizona Cardinals (3-0).
“The mindset has to be, going forward, to fix,” Harbaugh said. “You push against something until it’s upright. That’s the process our team uses and we have total belief in everybody associated with our program, coaches and players.”
Harbaugh further defended his staff in terms of their ability to make halftime adjustments. Reason for such concern: the 49ers have been outscored 52-3 after halftime, including 17-0 Sunday by the Cardinals.
Over 100 yards in penalties have been glaring factors each of the past two Sundays. The 49ers were penalized nine times against the Cardinals, and that followed 16 penalties in their 28-20 loss to the Chicago Bears in the Sept. 14 home opener.
Harbaugh refrained from complaining whether some were unwarranted, such as Patrick Willis’ hit on quarterback Drew Stanton that preceded the Cardinals’ go-ahead touchdown. Willis appeared to make a textbook hit on Stanton, and Harbaugh would only say Willis kept his face up and didn’t lead with the crown of his helmet.
“We never point any finger of blame or excuses in terms of the officiating,” Harbaugh said. “Sometimes the football gods can be unforgiving. You work to fix it and I’m confident we’ll do that.”
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin blamed the officials after Sunday’s game, however, for his pivotal penalty that spoiled a potential, go-ahead touchdown drive. Boldin said he headbutted safety Tony Jefferson as a retaliatory measure after the Cardinals repeatedly got away with cheap shots on him.
Boldin told reporters that penalties are costing the 49ers wins, and Harbaugh noted how those comments came “at an emotional time” shortly after the game.
“I think cool heads will prevail,” said Harbaugh, whose standard attire did not include a ballcap Monday for the first time this season.
Always one to accentuate the positives, Harbaugh liked what he saw from the debut of a five-receiver formation. The 49ers had never used that personnel grouping since Harbaugh arrived in 2011 from Stanford, though he said it’s been in his playbook.
They deployed the five-wide look on six consecutive plays on the opening touchdown drive and 14 snaps total, according to ProFootballFocus.com. They went with four wide receivers and one back on 14 other plays.
The 49ers offense couldn’t muster second-half points, however, and Harbaugh credited some of that to the Cardinals’ aggressive defense. “They did get us on two very good blitzes,” said Harbaugh. Although he didn’t specify which plays, the Cardinals’ lone sack came from a blitzing Jefferson in the fourth quarter.