For the first 15 minutes of his post-Week 1 press conference Monday, Jim Schwartz faced the same types of questions he's faced most every week of his tenure as Lions coach. He spoke about the play of his franchise quarterback, complimented the effort of a D-line that sacked Rams' QB Sam Bradford three times Sunday en route to a 27-23 win, and bemoaned a lack of discipline from one of his players.
Then, a reporter from the back of the auditorium asked Schwartz the first of many questions he'll face this week about his post-game “handshake” with 49ers' coach Jim Harbaugh at Ford Field last season. While Schwartz said he understood the media scrutiny that both he and Harbaugh will face this week over the event that nearly sparked a brawl after the 49ers handed the Lions their first 2011 loss, he downplayed the event's impact on Sunday's game. He said he'd seen Harbaugh several times at NFL events since it happened and had managed to shake his hand without incident.
“[The handshake is] long in the past,” he said. “It just seems so long ago that that occurred. When two teams take the field, that's not going to be on one player's mind.”
Schwartz may be of the opinion that his players won't be mindful of the highlight-reel moment that overshadowed one of the most tension-filled games in recent Lions' history, but some of his players said Monday that they remember well what it felt like to be in the middle of the fray.
“[Schwartz] just took a hard handshake, nudge, push in the back,” LB Ashlee Palmer said. “I guess just the way [Harbaugh shook Schwartz's hand, he] was like, 'he's not going to do me like that here.' ”
The handshake -- and the 10 points the Lions' defense allowed in the final two minutes of the teams' 2011 meeting -- made Sunday's matchup a red-letter date for Palmer and multiple other players.
“It was just one of those things [when the schedule came out] like, OK, [San Francisco] came in here and took our field from us," Palmer said. "We want to go out there on an even bigger stage and just take it right back from them."