NEW ORLEANS -- Much has been made of San Francisco's perfect Super Bowl history. Actually, too much of the focus is on the impact that 5-0 record will have on this team.
The 49ers' last Super Bowl appearance was after the 1994 season. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and wide receiver Michael Crabtree were 7 years old when San Francisco beat San Diego. Linebacker Aldon Smith was 5.
Common sense says that game or the 49ers earlier Super Bowl victories in their glory era (1981, 1984, 1988 and 1989 seasons) do not occupy a key spot in their memory banks. The 49ers are focusing on winning one for themselves rather than honoring the past.
“Right now we are trying to establish our own identity,” offensive tackle Joe Staley said. “You do not want to live in the past, and we are trying to create our own tradition and things that everybody can be excited about.”
The longest-tenured players on the roster—wide receiver Randy Moss and kicker David Akers -- entered the NFL four years after San Francisco's last Super Bowl victory.
Center Jonathan Goodwin, an 11-year veteran who has played the last two seasons with the 49ers, is one of the few San Francisco players who remember the one for the thumb vividly.
“I was a 49er fan growing up,” he said. “Steve Young got the Super Bowl ring so that's the main thing that stands out to me. Back then, that's when each and every year they had a shot of going to the Super Bowl. A great team and a great group of players. Hats off to them.”
Coach Jim Harbaugh played down the significance of the past without ignoring it.
“The organization has a tremendous history and we're very proud of it,” he said. “But this is new business and our team is focused on winning a championship.”
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Harbaugh the humorist: Harbaugh evades questions he does not want to answer, but he definitely has not appeared tight in New Orleans, injecting humor into his first two session with reporters.
On Sunday night, he explained who Kaepernick reminded of him when he got in the open field.
“When Colin is running and the stride that he has, the gracefulness with his stride, the ground that he covers, how fast and quick he is, reminds me of myself,” Harbaugh said. “Then I wake up. But when I dream and have visions of how I run personally, it's the way Colin runs.”
In 14 seasons as an NFL quarterback, Harbaugh's single-game high was 63 rushing yards. Kaepernick gained 181 yards on the ground in San Francisco's 45-31 win against Green Bay in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Asked Monday about the heavy use of tight ends and fullbacks in his offense, Harbaugh related a conversation he had in 2004 with the famously conservative Bo Schembechler, his coach at Michigan, when he got his first head coaching job with the University of San Diego.
“Before he said congratulations or anything, he said, ‘Tell me you are going to have a tight end who puts his hand on the ground on every snap,'” Harbaugh said. “He said, ‘Tell me you are going to have a fullback who lines up directly behind the quarterback with a halfback in the I-formation.' I said 'that's what we'll have.' He said, ‘Good, congratulations on getting the job.'”
Policing themselves: Harbaugh would not address his curfew policy was in New Orleans, but both he and his players said late-night entertainment would not be an issue despite their proximity to the French Quarter and a casino.
“It's something the players addressed,” Harbaugh said. “We talk about it very little. We trust our team.”
Offensive guard Alex Boone said that trust was well placed, adding the 49ers would avoid the distractions in the easiest way possible.
“Just staying in the hotel,” he said. “Coach said it before. We're here on a business trip. Randy (Moss) even said it. We're here on business. We're not here to party. We're not here to have fun. We're here to work, and when you're done, you can do whatever you want."