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It's what they don't say that counts

Jim Harbaugh creating edge for Sunday's game


OLB Nick Perry

Josh from Kunming, China

I was really excited to see the conference calls available, however, between Harbaugh's "different wave lengths" comment and Kaepernick's seemingly annoyed response to each question, I was sorely disappointed. I get that they're talking to the enemy, but if I'm going to keep up with those, are there going to be 15 more weeks of the same thing?

Josh, if you're going to listen to the conference calls, then you need to become skilled in the art of conference-call listening. There's a simple art to it: Listen to what they don't say. Yeah, it's what they don't say that's the real answer. It's like opposite George. Whatever is said, the opposite is the truth. Coaches are George. They were George before there was George. When I asked Coach Harbaugh yesterday if he thought running quarterbacks were here to stay, my question was followed by a long pause. I knew right away this was going to be an event. "Were they not here before?" he asked back following the pause. It was an invitation to continue the line of questioning, which I did. It was followed by more skillful dodging of the question and, finally, the "we're on different wave lengths" comment, which I have no doubt is the absolute truth. So, ask yourself, what answer was Coach Harbaugh avoiding? "No, the running quarterback is not here to stay." Bingo! Conference-call listening can be a lot of fun. I remember a conference call with Sam Rutigliano when he was the Browns rookie coach. He spent the whole call telling us how bad his team was and how it just wasn't ready for a big game against a championship team. When the call was over, I said to myself, "He's got a really good team." The game went into overtime and it's one of the best games I've ever covered.

Andrew from Warner Robins, GA

Jim Harbaugh is already trying to work the refs through the media claiming Clay Matthews and the Packers sound like they're targeting the QB. Do you think he might be a bit scared?

He's not scared, he's just trying to create an edge. That's what good coaches do. It's plainly clear by Mike McCarthy's demeanor this week that he has created an edge in his team for this game. Coach Harbaugh is using Matthews' comments to create an edge in the 49ers, and a little bit of an edge in whatever officiating crew works the game. It's an edge game. It's always been an edge game and coaches have always used whatever means available to challenge their players.

Shane from Taos, MO

Vic, like most fans, I'm ecstatic for the start of the regular season, but I have a dilemma. I promised my girlfriend I would attend a concert she's been dying to go to this Sunday. We weren't going to show up until seven, when the band she wants to see starts playing. So I was most likely going to catch the game. Now she says we must go at noon because there are other bands she apparently didn't know about. Would I be justified in bringing headphones and listening to the game?

Sure, bring the headphones, whatever your real name is; I'm hoping you've decided to use an alias. Maybe you could pick up Heisenberg and Ms. Kardashian along the way.

Blaine from Wausau, WI

This 49ers game has me jittery about looking bad on the national stage. We have to beat them.

Calm down, Blaine.


49ers coach Jim Harbaugh

Doug from Cameron Park, CA

Vic, I have to say, Harbaugh's tweets raised my blood pressure. We are the class of the NFL and for him to imply or even mention the Packers and the "Bountygate" scandal is downright criminal. I believe he is doing this to vilify any hits on Kaepernick. I believe his comments now will cause over-officiating. Your thoughts?

Coach Harbaugh tweets? Are you serious? I thought he was old school. I thought he was a Michigan man who just happened to get stuck in California. He tweets? I'm crestfallen.

Nathan from Lacey, WA

So Rodgers was asked if they were seeking revenge from last year and jokingly gave a quote from the movie "Tombstone" about it being a reckoning. I have a feeling with that smirk he gave the media that he wasn't entirely joking, if at all. Gonna be a fun season, I reckon.

Every week is a reckoning. This is not a game for the timid. This whole I-can't-wait-until-this-game-is-over routine has left me scratching my head. I may be out of it when it comes to pop culture, but anybody that thinks a team can fly under the radar for a game of this high profile, especially in a season opener, doesn't know much about pro football. The NFL intentionally schedules these kinds of confrontational season openers. The intent is to create good theater and this is great theater. I warned everybody in this column late last week that they shouldn't come here this week if they're soft. The players get it. They've got their war paint on, inside themselves. When you do that, you invest yourself in a game, and the more invested you are, the more desperate you are to not lose that investment.

Nolan from Janesville, WI

I'd like to thank you for trying to instill in us fans that this is just a game and that it should be fun to watch. Since I've grown up and watched more and more football, I've become more and more passionate about the team. The passion has, in the past year or two, turned into something quite psychotic. I've become so caught up in the game that it takes over my life. I'm an extremely superstitious person, and everything I do has a certain impact on the Packers winning or losing, in my mind at least. Over the past couple of months, though, you obviously have fielded questions from a lot of very nervous fans. Your responses have brought me back to a sane state of mind. This is just a game and it should be fun and joyful to watch and experience. So I'd just like to thank you.

Serenity now. Drop me a line in the fourth quarter on Sunday and let me know how that's working for you.

Donny from Green Bay, WI

As I sit here watching "Still Standing: The Earl Campbell Story," I'm amazed at how powerful and smooth he was at the same time. It's too bad younger fans like me can't find the appreciation for the past due to lack of exposure. I hope the NFL can continue to find ways to integrate the past to help us appreciate the now.

He was a beautiful running back, a magnificent blend of power, speed and grace, and I treasure the memories I have of watching him play in some of the biggest games I have ever covered. I can still hear the swish of those pom-poms in the Astrodome. Luv Ya Blue.

JoeB from Louisville, KY

How is Cobb progressing? Will he be ready for the game?

Randall Cobb is not on the Packers' injury report.

Tom from Dike, IA

What happened to that Joe McKnight rumor?

Well, there's another rumor missed.

Dana from Las Vegas, NV

I used to dread every game the Packers and Cornhuskers played. Then I moved to Las Vegas. Maybe it's the town, maybe it's the change in my surroundings. All I know is that I now just enjoy the game of football a lot more. I do not sweat about the small stuff. I love that smack talk with my friends and this week it was with the 49er fans I know. Like you say all of the time, I love this game! That's my job as a Packers shareholder and fan. Ever thought of moving to Las Vegas, Vic? I think you would love it, as I do.

If you can fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of smack talk? Is that what Kipling would write today? Seriously, I'm not a Las Vegas kind of guy, Dana. I was there for a convention back in the mid-'90s. I was in a hotel on that street with all the lights overhead. Every 20 minutes, Willie Nelson started singing and I'd wake up. I called the front desk and complained. They laughed at me.

Nick from Peterborough, Ontario

"For 10 straight seasons (an NFL record), at least one team has finished in its division's first place just one season after finishing in last place." – What team would be your pick to go from last to first in their division this year? Could it be the Lions?

I can understand why you would consider the Lions a candidate. The big guys are king and the Lions have the big guys. I'm going to say this is the year it doesn't happen.

Cory from Milton, ON

Vic, what is the over/under on how many times Kaepernick kisses his biceps during the Packers game? For some reason that celebration bothers me more than others.

Why is it I never know these things? He kisses his biceps? That's beautiful. What would Kipling have written? If you can kiss your biceps – but not make kissing your biceps your aim? Welcome to the celebration generation, Rudyard.


CB Micah Hyde

Roger from Providence, RI

What do you think Micah Hyde can do if he starts for the Packers?

Micah Hyde will be one of the most important players in this Sunday's game because I think it's a lock that Coach Harbaugh will target the rookie in his first-ever game, just as the 49ers targeted Nick Perry in his first-ever game.

Paul from De Pere, WI

I just listened to the conference calls with Harbaugh and Kaepernick; neither sounded particularly enthused to spend time with the opposing team's media. Is that standard?

Yes, that's standard operating procedure. I've largely spent conference-call day for most of my life being treated as an abysmal thing, a foul villain to be shunned. Bill Belichick was the worst. He'd make you repeat the question because he wasn't paying attention. You'd hear him shuffling papers as he was doing the call. One of the highlights of my career was, in the middle of one of those calls, saying, "We're done, coach," and then hanging up. It really felt good to do that. My all-time favorite conference call was with Don Coryell when he was the Chargers' coach. Coryell had a wonderfully dry personality that was grossly under-appreciated. We were having a rather productive conference call with him, which was atypical for Coryell, and he was enjoying the banter. We exhausted our questions and said thanks, and then he said: "That's all? My conference calls usually don't last very long. This is fun." So we asked some more questions.

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