NEW ORLEANS -- High winds on a gloomy day forced San Francisco to move indoors for its practice at the New Orleans Saints' facility. The way coach Jim Harbaugh talked on Thursday morning, he'll be disappointed if conditions in New Orleans have become clear and calm.
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He liked everything about Wednesday's workout.
“I would really love to have a photocopy of [Wednesday],” he said. “That's what I would most like to have to get out of [Thursday]. The energy we had at practice, the execution we had at practice, if we could go to the machine and get a photocopy of exactly what we had [Wednesday] and come back and get that [Thursday], it would be outstanding.”
Harbaugh wasn't finished. He rattled off the names of almost every practice-team player and several reserves, including third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien, in a three-plus minute praise-fest, finally singling out backup defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois (22 tackles, two sacks in the regular season).
“We couldn't block him [Wednesday],” Harbaugh said. “We could not block him. So there were quite a few positives going on, and like I said, we'll see if we can't get a photocopy of that [Thursday].”
Linebacker Patrick Willis agreed with Harbaugh but was more succinct.
“We were executing on all cylinders,” Willis said. “Our defense was competing. Our scout team guys were giving us a heck of a look. Our offensive guys were completing and catching passes, blocking well. It was just an all-around good practice special teams-wise and that's what it's going to take.”
The only concern for the 49ers is the health of linebackers Ahmad Brooks (shoulder) and Aldon Smith (shoulder), who were limited in practice. Brooks injured his shoulder in the NFC Championship Game against Atlanta.
“I wasn't as effective as I wanted to be, but I still made it through,” Brooks said. “I don't think I did anything in the ball game until the fourth quarter. … It was sore after the game for a couple of days. I feel good now and I'll be out there on Sunday.”
Smith said his injury wasn't an issue.
“I'm feeling great,” he said. “[Wednesday], we put a really good practice together -- I can honestly say one of our best practices of the whole year. If we keep putting practices like that together, I'm feeling great.”
Harbaugh the humorist (take 2): Usually not known for his wit, Harbaugh has kept every session with reporters light in New Orleans.
Whether he is trying to set a tone for his players or simply enjoying the spotlight, Harbaugh has become the king of wisecracks. Thursday, he noted Tolzien had told reporters he was thinking about writing an essay about the positive example benched quarterback Alex Smith has set.
“We're going to make that a real essay, too,” Harbaugh said. “We're not going to let that be just an empty suggestion by Scott Tolzien. We'll look very much forward to getting that essay.”
A little later, Harbaugh noticed where reporters were sitting.
“I'm glad no one's sitting in the front row here,” he said. “I have a tendency to spit when I talk.”
When asked about former San Francisco and Stanford coach Bill Walsh's role in him becoming Stanford coach in 2007, he recalled a phone message.
“Coach Walsh did call me and left a message on my phone to see if I would be interested in the Stanford coaching job,” he said. “I was intending to leave that message on my phone for the rest of my life, but I lost that phone or dropped it in the toilet or something. I can't remember which it was, I lost it or dropped it in the can, but I don't have that message anymore.”