Covering High School Sports in America
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has never been one to follow the crowd, especially when it comes to motivational techniques.

This postseason is no different, as Harbaugh made headlines this week after revealing one of his newest motivational tools: high school photos.

File photo by Anthony Brunsman

Colin Kaepernick pitching for Pitman High School.

According to the L.A. Times, Harbaugh posted laminated high school photos of each player, complete with recruiting rankings, above each locker while the team was off during Wild Card weekend. The players returned to find the flashback surprises, and had a good laugh checking out the other players' pictures.

For example, take a look at the sheet made up for Patrick Willis.

The more highly-touted players poked fun at teammates who had low rankings (including long snapper Brian Jennings, who was unranked at both the national and state level), and everyone had a good laugh at elder statesmen Randy Moss, 35, and Leonard Davis, 34, whose photos appeared in black and white.

So how do high school photos serve as motivation for NFL players, you ask? Harbaugh refused to explain the reasoning behind the move, but the players seem to have interpreted it in their own ways.

"Coach really wants us to tap into what we wanted to be at that time," safety Donte Whitner told the Times. "When you look at this picture, it's like, 'At this moment, what did I want to be?' We all look at this and we understand what we wanted to be, and where we are now."

Those players that had high rankings remembered what it was like to be a king among men, while those with low rankings remembered how hard they had to work just to get to college level, let alone the NFL.

However you want to interpret it, the tactic clearly worked during the Niners' 45-31 victory over Green Bay last weekend.

But for this week, Harbaugh may need some fresh material. Perhaps he'll purchase one of these photos of a slender young baseball player from Pitman (Turlock).