San Francisco 49ers

Harbaugh strongly denies claims 49ers’ players have turned against him

Jim Harbaugh had a strong reaction to Deion Sanders’ comments that the 49ers’ head coach is losing the locker room and his players want him out.

“Personally, I feel that’s a bunch of crap,” Harbaugh said at his news conference today. The coach also addressed other anonymous reports about discontent in the organization.

“If someone has a good story to tell, they want to put their name to it,” he said. “If you had a good story to tell, you’d put your name to it. If I had a good story to tell, I’d want to put my name to it. So I don’t put a lot of credibility into the unnamed source.”

Sanders’ comments came Sunday on the league-owned NFL Network. “They want him out,” he said of the 49ers’ players. “They’re not on the same page.”

That was followed Monday by comments from ESPN’s Trent Dilfer, who said on the radio that the atmosphere at 49ers headquarters has become “almost toxic.”

Said Harbaugh: “Really? I haven’t seen Trent or Deion around here much.”

As evidence the players are united, Harbaugh said plenty went wrong in Sunday’s 26-21 victory over the Eagles, including two Philadelphia touchdowns on special teams and an interception of a Colin Kaepernick pass that was returned for a touchdown. Yet the 49ers didn’t come unglued.

“There’s no finger-pointing; there’s total belief in each other,” Harbaugh said. “ That’s a joy to be around; that’s a joy to coach. They’re playing for each other. That’s the way they should be playing. I’m not taking any credit for that. I’m just expressing, that’s a joy to be around – these fighters, these men.”

Harbaugh has an open-door policy for players, and he said no one has complained to him about mistreatment.

Sanders, citing a locker-room source, said the 49ers’ players have been unhappy with Harbaugh.

“I really want to know if they’re really playing for the head coach,” Sanders said. “I got a question with that. Are you really down with your head coach, San Francisco 49ers? Because the way it looks and what I’m hearing, you’re really not down for your head coach. And that’s a problem. They really got some problems that we hear rumblings. We all know people inside locker rooms.”

Sanders is close to 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. They are represented by the same agent, Eugene Parker, and Sanders spoke on Crabtree’s behalf during his long contract impasse with the 49ers in his rookie year of 2009.

But Sanders used Twitter to say Crabtree was not his source.

“To many that this may concern @ KingCrab15 is not my source,” Sanders wrote. “My sources wears uniforms, suits and ties. # Truth”

There have been several reports about Harbaugh rankling his players, with another NFL Network reporter, Ian Rapoport, stating before the Week 1 game against the Cowboys that Harbaugh was losing his team. Another report from Rapoport on Sunday said the players were upset that Harbaugh “treats them like children.”

That likely stems from Harbaugh’s ban on playing music, cards and dice games on flights. That had been the routine for a number of players the previous three years, but it was cut off by the coach this year.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments