'Confident' Eberflus got advice from Saban before Bears debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST – Matt Eberflus has been the same guy since he walked through the Halas Hall doors. The Bears' head coach is detail-oriented, disciplined, punctual, and appears unflappable.
Still, making your debut as an NFL head coach is bound to be a nerve-wracking experience.
So, Eberflus did what most would do (if they could) and reached out to one of the most successful coaches of all time for advice – Nick Saban.
"I do, I do," Eberflus said Friday when asked if he leaned on Saban and Gary Pinkel for advice. "I talked to Nick a couple weeks ago, and I talked to Gary a lot more because Gary is retired now, so I talk to him more frequently. But I always talk to those guys, at least a couple times a year, just to get their feedback, and I do that with all my mentors. I think it's important to get information from guys who have been there and done that. It's always useful to have their experiences to help me along the way.
"Mostly, it comes down to be yourself," Eberflus said of Saban and Pinkel's advice. "I can't be another coach. I have to be myself. If you do that, it's genuine. If you're honest and you're honest in your relationships you have in the course of the team and you listen to your instincts, then good things are going to happen. "
Eberflus first crossed paths with Saban when he was a junior defensive back at Toledo in 1990. That 1990 season was the lone season that Saban coached at Toledo before leaving to be the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick.
Eberflus has said he and Saban don't talk often, but his former head coach clearly left an indelible mark on him as a young man.
"He was a great example of a master coach, somebody that you wanted to emulate," Eberflus told SportsCenter after being hired by the Bears. "He would state what he wanted to do but he would also give you examples on how. The exact way he wanted you to do it and that's what I learned from him. Just a great example of the how and how to get it done."
If the nerves are getting to Eberflus in advance of the biggest moment of his professional career, he's not showing it.
"I think it's a lot like the players. I feel confident, I feel ready and I feel focused on the job at hand," Eberflus said Friday. "I think that's where we are. We've prepared a long time to do this and we're all in that ready, that state of readiness. We're all excited about it."
The preparation for the 49ers is all but done. Eberflus wouldn't reveal whether center Lucas Patrick will play Sunday or if he will switch positions due to a thumb injury to his snapping hand.
Calm, cool, and collected, Eberflus talked about maintaining a competitive advantage over his opponent as he has all summer. Whether that gives the Bears an edge or not come Sunday is yet to be determined.
Eberflus started his coaching career as a student assistant coach at Toledo in 1992. For 30 years, he has worked his way up the coaching ladder where he now resides: one of the 32 most coveted jobs in football coaching.
The hard work to get to this point is over. There's a lot more in front of him. But for now, all that's left is the Saturday night speech.
"To me, it's about us," Eberflus said. "It's about what we've done to this point and we're really going to focus on us. I know you obviously have to focus on the great players that San Francisco has and how you are going to limit them and do the best you can that way, but this all comes down to us.
"It's about us building a foundation. It's about us really going out there and executing the game plan and play aggressive, clean, smart football and that's what we want to do."
He seems ready for his moment in the spotlight. We'll see if the same can be said of the Bears come noon on Sunday.
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