Jim Harbaugh pushing 49ers to study hard for final test
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NEW ORLEANS -- Some teams see a visit to the Super Bowl as a business trip. Jim Harbaugh wants his 49ers to look at it as if they're going back to school.
And Sunday is the final exam.
"The things that we always emphasize as a team, and that's studying for the test," the 49ers coach said when asked what kind of wisdom he's been sharing with his players as they arrived here Sunday night, exactly one week prior to Super Bowl XLVII against the Ravens. "I want them to enjoy every minute and especially enjoy the competition. And that's the most exciting thing to look forward to, is playing the game. That ball being kicked off and working together, fighting together, playing together for a chance to win a championship."
The 49ers seem to have embraced that, as a franchise with five championships already in the trophy case, makes its first trip to the Super Bowl in 18 seasons.
"It's not every year you get a chance to do this," tight end Vernon Davis said. "Some guys go their whole career and don't even get an opportunity to play in this game. You can't take it for granted . . . I'm extremely excited about this."
The 49ers arrived a day earlier than the league mandates. The Ravens will arrive Monday. The 49ers also had been busy practicing in California with what appears to be a heavier workload than their opponents in Baltimore.
"Everybody's enjoying the moment, but nobody is missing out on the task at hand," defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois said. "The task is beating the Ravens."
The 49ers won't have an official practice until Wednesday, which will give them two full days in the city. Besides media obligations, they'll spend time in meetings and enjoying the atmosphere. They'll also be fine-tuning the game plan.
"We're working on improving some of the things we do while we study our opponent," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said last week. "The hay's never in the barn."
In the meantime, Harbaugh will keep teaching toward that final exam with his typical manic style.
"Everyone on the team, they love Harbaugh," Davis said. "He brings a lot of energy to this team and that's what we like most about him, his energy is so high. He keeps it that way, which is a good thing, because we can all feed off that. You can play with him, you can joke with him."
Harbaugh has made a habit of asking his team a simple question in victorious postgame locker rooms this season. With the players gathered around, he'll scan the room and pop his query: Who's got it better than us?
"There's nothing wrong with the media coming up to us and talking with us, we're having fun with them the way they're having fun with us," Jean Francois said of the relaxed nature of the next few days before the final cram begins. "We're enjoying the moment, having fun with it. And with this moment, who could have it better than us?"
That might wind up being the bonus question at the end of Sunday's exam.