Harbaugh will 'fight' to keep key players

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Jim Harbaugh is a former player and as an NFL coach, he has often let it be known how much he values his players.

He has routinely lobbied to re-sign players. Earlier this season, he famously said “pay the man” when the topic of re-signing kicker Phil Dawson was broached. On Tuesday, in his season-ending news conference, Harbaugh continued that mantra. He wants to keep his players.

“Today, it’s Tuesday and I’m back to work. You find other ways to compete. It’s not as enjoyable as it was a week ago. You’re not still playing. You’re not still competing on the field and getting ready for practice today and tomorrow. But, you do find other ways to compete. And, [keeping key players is] definitely one of the ways,” Harbaugh said. “Fight to keep our players. Fight for our players to not be taken away from us. So, that will be a competitive fight.”

In addition to Dawson, among San Francisco’s unrestricted free agents are receiver Anquan Boldin, safety Donte Whitner and cornerback Tarell Brown.

“I’m resigned to the fact that I’m going to fight to keep our players and not let our players get taken away,” Harbaugh said.

Typically, teams talk, in earnest, to prospective free agents in February.