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49ers proceed into bye week with emotional coach

By Janie Mccauley

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 17 2011 6:25 p.m. MDT

San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh speaks to reporters at a news conference at the NFL football team's facility in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Oct. 17, 2011.

Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jim Harbaugh's aggressive, second-long handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz and accompanying back slap have talk radio all atwitter, and Twitter, too.

And, boy, were his 49ers players entertained by it all.

San Francisco's emotional first-year coach is winning, and celebrating the team's turnaround in his unique style — even if he rubs people the wrong way in the process. The Niners are 5-1 heading into their bye week after a 25-19 victory over the previously unbeaten Lions.

"We're not here today to throw any salvos. There's not going to be any salvos coming out of the West Coast," Harbaugh said Monday.

Harbaugh spoke to NFL Executive Vice President Ray Anderson and vowed to improve his own postgame behavior. The NFL announced neither coach would be fined for their altercation at the end of the game.

Still, Harbaugh doesn't plan to say sorry.

"Personally I can get better at the postgame handshake and we'll attempt to do that," Harbaugh said. "I don't think that there's any reason for an apology. We spoke about it after the game, and at some point we will talk in private. Apologies always seem to me like excuses."

Harbaugh insisted before the trip back to Michigan, where he starred in Ann Arbor for the Wolverines, that he has no friends. He probably didn't make any at Ford Field.

On Monday, the coach said he is unconcerned about whether coaches like him or not, saying, "Mostly we care about our team and what they think of our team."

His team appreciates the loyalty and hard-nosed approach. Always.

"It's something you don't see every game. As a player, I was kind of pumped up about it," left tackle Joe Staley said, chuckling. "They weren't fighting, they were just getting after it. It's an intense game and football is an intense sport with high emotions. It's just something that happened at the end of the game. Obviously you don't want to see a fight happen, but there was some yelling and stuff."

And this isn't the first time. Something similar happened during his Stanford days with former Southern California coach and now Seahawks chief Pete Carroll. They have become bitter rivals.

In 2009, Carroll asked Harbaugh, "What's your deal?" when they met at midfield after No. 25 Stanford ran up the score on 11th-ranked USC in a surprising 55-21 rout, even attempting a 2-point conversion with the game way out of reach.

"It looked like a hearty greeting to me," Carroll said Monday of Harbaugh's handshake in Detroit, drawing a chuckle.

Harbaugh doesn't much care about what others think. He is all about winning, whatever it takes.

Yet back in the locker room Sunday after the skirmish, the coach told his players he wished it hadn't happened and taken the focus off their monumental victory.

"He's a competitor," said tight end Delanie Walker, who scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:56 left. "And that shows a lot, you know. He was very emotional. It was a big win, we overcame a whole lot in the game and he kinda felt that — you know, he didn't play, but he coached the game. So I could see him acting the way he acted. Really wasn't no big thing, it was just a rough handshake, and I think it got carried out of proportion. But, you know, when he got in the locker room he talked about it, he wished it never happened because he didn't want to take away from our win."

Quarterback Alex Smith spent the moments after the game ended talking to former 49ers QB Shaun Hill, along with Staley. They all hugged.

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