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NFL Notebook: Steelers permitted to interview Redskins' special teams coach

| Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 9:04 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS — Danny Smith, a Pittsburgh native and the Washington Redskins' special teams coach, has been granted permission to interview for the Steelers' special teams coordinator's job. The Redskins denied permission for Smith to interview with the Steelers several years ago but will allow it this time.

The Redskins' special teams have consistently ranked among the NFL's best under Smith, although they did have an NFL-high five field goals blocked in 2011 and two punts blocked last season.

The Steelers began training camp in July with two special teams coaches, Al Everest and Amos Jones, but currently have none. Everest was fired for undisclosed reasons late in camp, and Jones quit over the weekend to join new Cardinals coach Bruce Arians' staff in Arizona.

About-face from Goodell

During a chat Monday on the Reddit website, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he noticed “the improved quality of the playing” during the Pro Bowl on Sunday night.

The future of the game is in doubt, in part because Goodell felt the players — concerned about injuries — weren't putting out the effort necessary to replicate a regular-season game.

Temper, temper

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh appeared to grow testy Monday when he was asked similar questions, especially those regarding quarterback Colin Kaepernick. At one point, he said that backup quarterback Alex Smith actuality coaches Kaepernick more than he does.

Brother John Harbaugh, the Ravens coach and the more mild-mannered of the two, laughed when told about his brother's perceived agitation.

“Take a shot, keep asking him,” John Harbaugh said, smiling, looking for any edge he can get over his little brother.

John Harbaugh also said he'll keep giving the same answer if he's asked identical questions.

“It's not me, it's how long can you (reporters) last?” he said.

No ordinary Joe

Joe Montana. Steve Young. Tom Brady. Joe Flacco. Which name seems out of place?

While he might not always look like one against the Steelers, Flacco is becoming one of the NFL's best big-game quarterbacks. If the Ravens upset the 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Flacco will have won nine playoff games in his first five seasons. Only Brady has done that.

And Flacco, the one-time Pitt reserve quarterback, goes into his first Super Bowl with eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in these playoffs. The only quarterbacks who surpassed that for a full postseason were Montana, who had 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions during the playoffs following the 1989 season, and Young, who had nine TD passes and zero interceptions in the 1994 season playoffs.

While the 49ers arrived Sunday night for their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1994 game, the Ravens didn't show up until mid-afternoon Monday. Both teams go through the sometimes entertaining but often overhyped media day on Tuesday before settling into their pregame preparations Wednesday.

49ers left tackle Joe Staley knew this wasn't an ordinary road trip when he stepped onto the team flight to New Orleans.

“We had this huge plane (with) bed seats. That was probably No. 1,” Staley said.

Dome sweet dome?

The 49ers might have one advantage — they played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome only two months ago, beating the Saints, 31-21, on Nov. 25. And while quarterback Kaepernick started only seven games during the regular season, that was one of them.

This will already be Kaepernick's fourth game in a dome.

“I think he is familiar with the surroundings and especially playing in a dome,” Staley said. “I hear a lot of quarterbacks and receivers talk about a lot of domes are different as far as the lighting. No dome is the same. I think it was big. We will see how much of an importance that plays. You always want to be near some level of comfort there.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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