SANTA CLARA — Jim Harbaugh called his players together Thursday and talked to them about writing a new story.
This isn't the dramatic Super Bowl return of a year ago. It's not the tale of Harbaugh's remarkable turnaround first season as a head coach when the San Francisco 49ers snapped an eight-year playoff drought in 2011.
Harbaugh is doing his best to motivate his players in the midst of a tough stretch, while running back Frank Gore is calling on his offensive teammates to do their part to help save San Francisco's season before it's too late.
Gore acknowledged what must happen the rest of the way — winning — for the reigning NFC champion Niners (6-4) to return to the playoffs let alone be in position to chase another Super Bowl berth.
San Francisco has lost two straight for the second time this season after a home loss to Carolina, then a last-second 23-20 loss at New Orleans last Sunday. A Monday night game at Washington looms, and Gore and Co. realize they cannot afford to let another game get away.
"We've lost two in a row. I know Monday night, Washington's going to be pumped and we're trying to get back on track to get where we want to be, and that's to get to the playoffs," Gore said. "Everybody's got to be on board. Everybody's got to make a play when it's there. ... They've lost close games back-to-back and I know they're desperate for a win. We're trying to get back on track."
Just four total points have decided the past two games for San Francisco, which came out of its bye week riding a five-game winning streak during which quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the offense had scored 31 or more points in each of those victories.
"There's a fine line between winning and losing," fullback Bruce Miller said. "In the past, I think more so we've been on the other side of that, the ball bounced our way and we've made plays. Now, Coach Harbaugh just talked about it. This is a different story, a different season. And we're still writing it. We're in the run, we just have to be more opportunistic."