SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Coming off perhaps is worst loss in his four-year run with the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Harbaugh maintained resolute Monday, theming his regular day-after press conference with the idea of professionalism.
"Well you take great love and pride in being a professional," he said. "That’s every day. That’s every week. That’s every game. That’s every play until the whistle that you take pride in snapping on the film the next day and showing that (you) played with every ounce of effort that you have because of your love for the game and the pride you had in being an NFL football professional."
Sitting at 7-6 with three games remaining and two games behind the wild card teams in the NFC, the 49ers must win out and get a ton of help to get back to the postseason if there's any chance at saving Harbaugh's job after falling to the 11-loss Raiders Sunday.
But despite losing to Oakland by 11 points and getting thoroughly outplayed by an inferior team in a must-win game, Harbaugh stayed true to himself and remained outwardly positive.
"You have love and pride for them (the players). In the effort, the effort’s there. You look at the way we played the run game defensively. There’s examples, special teams, offensively, that guys are doing that," Harbaugh said.
It's Harbaugh's offense led by a struggling Colin Kaepernick that's come under the most fire in 2014. Kaepernick issued his two worst performances, arguably, of his career over the lat two games, combining to throw one touchdown and four interceptions, while completing 55 percent of his passes.
Our friends at Pro Football Focus have metrics that paint an even uglier picture.
Over the last two weeks, Kaepernick is 4 of 26 for 76 yards and four interceptions on passes longer than 10 yards, according to PFF. And when pressured Sunday, he completed just 2 of 8 throws with a pick, took five sacks and was tackled behind the line of scrimmage twice when trying to scramble.
"It’s hit a rough patch the last couple games. And definitely things to improve and correct," Harbaugh said of the passing game.
What's also been an issue is the team's use of the ground game. The 49ers averaged 5.4 yards per carry, but ran the ball 18 times to 33 pass attempts. And while they did lose by two scores, they weren't down by 11 the entire game.
In the third quarter, from two yards out, they could have taken a demanding 17-10 lead with a fourth-down touchdown instead of settling for a short field goal. On that drive, Frank Gore had three carries that amassed 28 yards.
"Yeah, thought about it. Made the decision to put the points on the board and hit the go-ahead three at that point," Harbaugh said.
After the Raiders made that red-zone stop, they reeled off consecutive 80-yard scoring drives that proved to be the difference. Gore received just two carries after the 49ers took the 13-10 lead in the third quarter.
Harbaugh is sporting a chipped front left tooth, proving symbolic considering his situation. It happened at dinner the night before Sunday's loss.
"Bit into a piece of meat. There’s not much of that tooth left. It’s mainly bonding. I got that tooth knocked out in a football game," Harbaugh said.
What was the meat?
"A $2 steak," he said.
If that tough slab of beef is the 2014 season, the tooth is Harbaugh's 49ers. Still hanging on by bonding, but mostly gone away, like the team's playoff hopes. It will need repair, akin to what's likely to happen in San Francisco's coming offseason.
Harbaugh originally had the tooth knocked out by famed Steelers pass rusher Greg Lloyd in the the wild card round of the playoffs Dec. 29, 1996. The 42-14 loss was Harbaugh's final career playoff game.
"One of the first three plays of the game. Stepped up and I think Mr. Lloyd hit me right in the mouth...When helmet to helmet was legal," Harbaugh said, noting he was wearing a mouthpiece.
In what's become typical in recent weeks, Harbaugh sidestepped questions about his standing with the organization and other available coaching jobs. That includes his alma mater of Michigan, who reportedly reached out to Harbaugh for their head coaching vacancy in recent days.
"As I’ve said, as a principle I don’t talk about any other job other than the one that I have," he said. "I’ve answered this question many times, even recently. So you know exactly what my priorities are. I get this from the Marines. Leaders eat last. My number one priority is winning football games. Second priority is the welfare of the players, the coaches, all our staff. The welfare of our team. Lastly, is my own personal professional future."
Harbaugh was also asked about the idea that the numerous leaks from unnamed sources regarding his uncertain future are coming from the 49ers front office.
"I don't know that," he said.
With the theme of professionalism in his pressure Monday, Harbaugh was asked directly if he believes there has been professionalism throughout the organization lately, including from the front office.
"We're a team," Harbaugh answered.