By Jerrell Richardson
Anyone watching the San Francisco practice from a distance on Thursday would see nothing wrong with the NFC West leading 49ers. Quarterback Alex Smith was cleared for practice and back slinging the ball around the field, and the rest of the team looked focused. Their upcoming game against the NFC North-leading Bears is of the utmost importance, and the entire team will need to be sharp if they hope to get back to their winning ways. A closer look at the team running through drills and plays showed that one very important person was missing, head coach Jim Harbaugh.
He Doesn’t Miss Practice
Coach Harbaugh is as dedicated as any coach in the league. When he and his wife had their first child on September 4, he only missed an afternoon walk through, so for him to miss an entire practice is a big deal. Due to chest pains and an irregular heart beat, Harbaugh was taken to the hospital Wednesday for what is being reported as a “minor” procedure. With no real details as to what was done, and with the team saying that they expect Harbaugh back at the facility Friday, there is nothing to do but hope and wait. If Harbaugh strides back into 49ers headquarters tomorrow, all smiles, says it was nothing and it’s time to get back to work, then everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. If he does not show up, though, then the concerns will rise, and they will have nothing to do with football.
Health Before Football
As with the injury to Alex Smith and the possibility of a head injury, the concern for Jim Harbaugh is his health, period. No amount of wins or losses is worth him rushing back, and the team and organization should have no problem waiting for the man responsible for transforming them from a team that was irrelevant in the post season conversation into a Super Bowl contender. For those still concerned with the on-the-field impact, Harbaugh has a coaching staff and team that , if anything, will rally behind the fact that their general is not there and stay the course without him physical presence.
One player who is not a fan of Harbaugh is San Francisco running back Brandon Jacobs. One of the newest 49ers picked an inopportune moment to send out a tweet that he insists is not a shot at his new coach. In his tweet Jacobs said, “In a place where you hate your boss so much.” Followed by the hash tag: “YouLiveAndYouLearn.” His explanation is that his life is not all about football and that it should not be assumed that his tweet is directed at Harbaugh, but he is just trying to cover his tracks. Jacobs is employed as a professional football player, so the only other person who could be viewed as his boss would be whatever deity he worships or his wife. Jacobs has been healthy for weeks but has yet to step on the field, so it appears to be taking its toll on the veteran’s psyche. Unfortunately, he could not have picked a worst time to hit send, as he just took a shot at a guy at a beloved coach while he is in the hospital.
The rest of the team has come out and supported Harbaugh. They have all said that Harbaugh was his normal self just a day ago in meetings and on the practice field, so they would be shocked if there was something wrong with the 2nd year coach. They all agreed that they would welcome him back on Friday, but would prefer him to come back whenever he is ready, where all but one player will welcome him with open arms.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.