Big surprise: Jim Harbaugh is eager to start the second half of the season.
After a bye week and some time away from football, the 49ers’ head coach and his staff got back to work Monday in preparation for their matchup with the St. Louis Rams Sunday at Candlestick Park.
On Tuesday, practice resumes for a team that is 6-2, leads the NFC West and has been dominant at times.
For Harbaugh, however, it’s not enough. He wants to see even better performance over the second half of the season.
“We feel like improvement will lead to wins and wins will lead to championships,” he told Taylor Price of 49ers.com Monday. “It’s an improvement-equals-success theory. I know it sounds simple, but so simple it might possibly work."
He’s hoping the 49ers can continue the level of play they achieved in their last game, a 24-3 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. In that game, quarterback Alex Smith was almost perfect and the defense continued to stuff the opposition.
San Francisco ranks No. 1 in the NFL in total defense and scoring defense.
And, with some time off for rest and extra preparation for the Rams, the 49ers figure to play well Sunday – at least based on recent history.
In the season and a half since Harbaugh has been head coach, the 49ers are 8-1 in games where they have had at least one extra day to prepare, reports Matthew Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
The only loss? January’s overtime defeat to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game.
“The coaches, they’re always dialed in, no matter if it’s a Thursday night game, Monday night game, they’re always on it,” right guard Alex Boone told Barrows. “They work here all night. For the Thursday night game, we came in on Monday and they had the whole game plan in. They looked like they had been up all night. But that’s the kind of guys they are. They want to be around here and they want to see us succeed.”
Harbaugh says he’s “excited and looking forward to preparation this week, another division game,” the team’s third in a row after wins over Seattle (on a Thursday night) and Arizona (on a Monday night).
Players, he believes, will be eager to get back to the field and ready to grind out the final eight games on the schedule as they point to the playoffs.
“Every now and then everyone needs to take a knee and sip a little water,” Harbaugh told 49ers.com. “We need everyone back full strength for the second half of the campaign.”