Is Garcia being too hard on himself?

Jeff Garcia wants more. And that had the 49ers' star quarterback putting himself on the couch Thursday afternoon, discussing the joy of football and why he doesn't seem to be having much of it lately. "I've been very hard on myself, very hard on the team, expecting so much out of this team. And I think that's something that really needs to be let go, let free from within me in order to have more success," said Garcia, sounding like a QB in need of some serious psychotherapy.

Garcia has been selected to three consecutive Pro Bowls. He has led the 49ers into the playoffs the past two seasons. He led them to their first NFC West title in five years this season. But he's still not happy, and it's showing in his demeanor.

Is this guy crazy, or what?

"Because I'm the guy in there pulling the trigger, I want it to be working to perfection," Garcia said. "And sometimes, by putting so much pressure on yourself, it really takes away from the fun of the game. And I play the game best when I'm having fun."


Garcia is having difficulty having fun this year in his third full season as the team's starter for several reasons.


Because of the high standards he set during the previous two years, and the lofty expectations that were placed on both him and the 49ers this season, the 32-year-old quarterback hasn't been able to enjoy or appreciate some of the things he and the team have accomplished.


"That's what I really need to get back to, and really start to enjoy myself again, and smile more, and lift the weight off my shoulders," Garcia said. "I've been expecting so much out of myself and the team, just like everybody else. I've been, at times, walking around here with a heavy mind. And that's not good for myself or for this team. I need to just take a step back and really enjoy everything that's taking place and just build on that."


The Niners won their first NFC West title since 1997 and will host a wild-card playoff game on Jan. 5. Garcia has played a major role in getting the team there. He leads the NFC in completions and passing attempts, has directed four fourth-quarter comeback wins this year and last week was named to the Pro Bowl again.


But the Niners have had problems developing consistency on offense throughout the season. And Garcia's passer rating (85.6) and touchdown passes (21) are down from his numbers from the past two years that were among the NFL's best.


Niners coach Steve Mariucci hardly sees those as reasons for his quarterback to be frowning.


"Jeff is hard on himself because he's a perfectionist," Mariucci said. "There's just a lot of pressure on the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. There always will be. And so, he wants to be perfect, and he wants to be all of that – everything that a quarterback wants to be. I just wish he could enjoy it. Somewhere in there, you have to have some fun and smell the roses. I think he deserves to be able to do that. Because he should be enjoying it. He should be pinching himself that he's having all of this success with the San Francisco 49ers."


Garcia will save the pinches for later.


"I'm still trying to attain more, trying to find other things that are going to make us happier and make us proud here," he said. "I know that I've been very intense on the football field, sometimes to the point of it maybe taking away from my enjoyment of the game. There's enough pressure as it is. I don't need to add to it. I'm just trying to do whatever's best from within myself to help this team be a Super Bowl team."



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