Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers’ head coach, has a distinct lexicon. If you study this guide, practice in front of a mirror and converse with your friends, you, too, will be able to speak and understand Harbaughian.
This is Harbaugh’s way of describing a young player who is making progress. The exceedingly positive Harbaugh never has used the opposite, “arrow down.”
– on quarterback B.J. Daniels, August 2013
‘BABY DEER SKIN’
Harbaugh has used this multiple times to describe someone’s ability to handle pressure or criticism.
– when asked in April 2011 about the boos quarterback Alex Smith dealt with at Candlestick Park a year earlier
‘FREDERICK P. SOFT’
He’s the tiny figure who stands on a person’s shoulder and whispers so much fawning praise into the ear that the person inevitably becomes content and loses his/her desire.
– October 2011
This is anyone who speaks falsely of Harbaugh or his players. Harbaugh, a child of the 1970s, might have borrowed the phrase from the show “Sanford and Son.”
– October 2012, regarding reports that Alex Smith’s confidence was shaken
From the Old Testament, used to describe the valiant men who fought at David’s side, Harbaugh uses it to laud his own troops, especially after games.
– after beating the Carolina Panthers in January
‘ONE MPH FASTER’
As a player, Harbaugh spent four years in the country’s motor sports capital, Indianapolis. This phrase sums up his coaching mentality, which is to constantly strive to get even an iota’s worth of improvement from his team.
– on Colin Kaepernick, February 2014
‘PEEL BACK THE ONION’
It’s a telling metaphor for a man who tries to keep everyone – opponents, reporters, the public – on the outside, never allowing access into the internal workings of his team, much less his soul.
– on Kaepernick, July 2013
Harbaugh talks about agents more than John le Carré. Anyone who has played for Harbaugh and performed for Harbaugh gains this moniker.
– on LaMichael James, August 2013
– on recently traded Alex Smith, August 2013
‘WORKING THROUGH SOMETHING’
Harbaugh is loathe to discuss injuries. Instead he’ll use this three-word phrase as a response for why a player sits out a practice or misses a game. He uses it to cover a “Grey’s Anatomy’s” worth of issues, from a tweak of the hamstring to Justin Smith’s torn triceps tendon in 2012.
– on running back Marcus Lattimore, May 2014