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SANTA CLARA

For today's lesson in Advanced Harbaugh — Jim Harbaugh 301 — I've prepared a lexicon of his favorite phrases in the interest of better understanding the man.

My premise is that Harbaugh reveals his worldview through his phrases. His worldview is not your mamma's worldview. He lives in a world of heroes and epic battles peopled with enemies constantly attacking him and his few hero pals — the 49ers.

The Niners are heroes but they are humble heroes with good hearts and, although many are millionaires, they act and think just like you and me. The media spies for the enemy by asking questions which, if Harbaugh ever were stupid enough to answer them, would aid and abet opponents. Plus the media never helped win a single game.

Here is the Harbaugh lexicon with occasional notes from me in parentheses:

ON THE HEROISM OF FOOTBALL:

It's a cruel team. (This is the highest praise because football is no walk in the park. Cruel is good. He referred to the Giants as a cruel team. The 49ers are the cruelest team.)

Wicked fight. (This is another form of high praise. "Wicked" is good. Justin Smith has wicked fight. So do the Niners. Sunday's game with the Giants will be a wicked fight. Harbaugh lives for wicked fights. In his day, he must have been a wicked fighter.)

Steely-eyed. (Said in praise of the 49ers or the opponent. It implies eyes of steel, men of steel, Superman times 53.)

We give no quarter and we ask no quarter.

The great thrill of winning. (Nothing equals this thrill.)

This was a great team victory. (No player is bigger than the team.)

ON THE HERO 49ERS:

They're not like you or me. They've got superhuman healing powers. (No mere Kryptonite can stop them.)

They have gifts from mom and dad and God. (They are demigods visiting Earth.)

These players are mighty men.

These players are my heroes.

ON BEING THE NFL'S GREAT BLUE-COLLAR TEAM:

We are a blue-collar team. (Note: In the locker room, the 49ers players wear blue-collar shirts with their names stitched in script near the pocket. The players look like gas-station mechanics. You want to say to Alex Smith, "Hey, bub, can you check my oil.")

ON BEING GENTLE WARRIORS:

And so, we proceed with humble hearts.

ON WITHHOLDING JUDGMENT:

I don't like to compare players. Someone always gets diminished.

I don't know much about music. (He wouldn't compare players, so the media tried to lure him into the battle of the bands by asking, "Who do you like better, the Beatles or the Stones?" He refused to choose. In the Harbaugh World, the Fab Four don't rank with special teams.)

ON BEING MOODY AND COMPLICATED:

I am moody and complicated.

I am not friends with other coaches. We're trying to beat them.

I slept like a baby last night. I woke up every hour crying. (Said in response to some writer asking how he slept before the game against — pick a team.)

Read all of the PD's fire coverage here

I told my dad I was glad we moved from (pick a town). I had run out of friends.

ON NEVER HAVING LONG-TERM GOALS:

We try to get one mile an hour faster each day. (Question: What speed have the Niners reached? I'm sure they could compete at Indy by now.)

We try to get one percent better each day. (According to my calculation, the 49ers are now at 183 percent.)

We don't look ahead. We're trying to get better this practice.

The next game is the most important game of the season. (Refers to whatever game they're playing.)

I don't live in the past or with regret, don't think about what-if. I think about how to make the future better.

ON HATING TO REVEAL INJURIES:

I'm not in his body. I don't have an MD. (Usually said when asked if so-and-so will practice, will play, is having a bad hair day.)

I'm not going to specifically talk about that.

ON APOLOGIES:

I don't apologize. Apologies are excuses.

ON STATISTICS THAT DON'T MATTER:

Low-hanging fruit. (Low-hanging fruit is synonymous with meaningless, easy-to-grasp statistics. He used the phrase to explain why Alex Smith should have been voted into the Pro Bowl but was not. In the Harbaugh mind, although Smith does not have great passing statistics — low-hanging fruit the voters lazily could grab — he has a fabulous winning record. Winning is all that counts.)

ON NOT OVER-PRACTICING FOR THE GIANTS:

We prefer not to overcook it. Burned meat. Stale bread doesn't taste real good. Want to get it just right. (On the parallels between football and grub.)

ON THE MEDIA:

I don't feel the need to answer that question.

I don't like your tone. (Said to me.)

I don't understand your question.

Huh?

I won't answer that question. That's scheme.

We don't talk about scheme.

The blank stare — nonverbal response which means, take your pick: 1) What a dumb question. 2) It's too much of an effort even to think about what you just asked, an effort I can better use creating football plays. 3) If I answer that question, (pick a team) may learn something vital about our game plan. 4) I'm just not in the mood. 5) I don't like you.

Those are your words, not mine. (Said when a writer asks why the — pick a unit — had "a bad game.")

We've covered this ground pretty thoroughly.

I've addressed that before.

It's well documented.

Write something bad about us. We like that.

When you write nice things about us, we get worried. We want whatever is written about us to be negative.

I don't feel comfortable with those honeyed words of praise.

We'll see. (Meaning, he'll never think about it again.)

Your question doesn't resonate with me.

I think that's a ridiculous statement that you made.

I don't agree with that. I reject that.

So, who is Harbaugh? He is confrontational, argumentative, secretive in public. With his team he is protective, loyal, loving. That is his style and his style works.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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