Why is Jim Harbaugh a winning coach for 49ers?
Guest article by Jerome Manson
The younger brother to Baltimore Ravens coach, John Harbaugh, Jim has had no problem making a name for himself in the NFL. After 14 seasons as a starting quarterback, in which her garnered the nickname “Captain Comeback” after leading the Colts on a post season run with late game turnarounds, Jim went on to start his coaching career. After stints of offensive and assistant coaching positions, Jim
Harbaugh took the head coaching position at Stanford University.
The Comeback Kid to Turn Around Guru
Harbaugh quickly made a name for himself and proved to be a very capable head coach. The Cardinals had gone 1-11 in the year previous to Harbaugh taking the position, and with him at the helm they would go on to win the Orange Bowl four years later. More impressively, the Cardinals had a winning record against the USC Trojan powerhouse under Harbaugh, going 2-1 which included one of the “greatest upsets of all time.” This ability to turn a struggling team around made him a commodity in the NFL where he inevitably ended up at our beloved San Francisco 49ers. The turnaround that Harbaugh was able to produce with the 49ers is simply staggering. Almost everyone thought that we would need a few rebuilding years at least before the 49ers started to show progress, and the lockout that threatened Harbaugh’s first season
looked to hurt teams in transition. The fact that Harbaugh turned a team that was 6-10 in 2010, to a 13-3 team in 2011 plus a NFC championship matchup is simply astounding, and now the 49ers are Super Bowl favorites.
What Makes Harbaugh Different?
The fact that Harbaugh can such drastic affects on two different teams, playing at different levels, shows
that there is something about his coaching techniques that produces results where other coaches could
- Trust: More than any other NFL coach, Harbaugh fosters trust in his players. Alex Smith, who has been mocked and heckled for years after failing to perform, was handed Harbaugh’s playbook before the lockout was settled and Harbaugh was the main, if only reason, that Smith got another contract for a year. Trust goes both ways, and the players know Harbaugh is on their side.
- A Player’s Coach: Harbaugh does not try to force a player into a franchise mold. Rather, he adapts his play books and coaching style to the players.
- Multi-Faceted Offense: To their credit, the 49ers roster have adapted very quickly to the deep playbook brought forth by Harbaugh. Utilizing substitutions, trick plays, and letting Alex Smith out of his cage, has kept defenses guessing and the 49ers on top.
- Passion and Intensity: If anything, Harbaugh is fun to watch. Yelling, jumping, head-butting, fistpounding, running up and down the side line, Harbaugh looks like he is about to explode come game time. This undoubtedly gets his players fired up and as they try to match his passion and intensity for the game on the field.
- Defense: Just look at John Harbaugh’s legendary Ravens defense and compare it to what JimHarbaugh has done in San Francisco and you can see that both brothers believe in the time old saying “the best offense is a good defense.” In weeks 4-5 the 49ers defense held the Jets and the Bills to just three points, and their pass rushing has consistently been a problem forquarterbacks across the league.
Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers have found a great fit with one another, and Alex Smith is turning into the franchise quarterback that fans have been hoping for underneath the coach’s wing. Not trying to jinx anything, but hopefully the 49ers can maintain their momentum and capitalize in the post season under Harbaugh’s keen eye and go for the big one.
Jerome Manson is a sports
enthusiast who enjoys both watching games and writing about them. When he is not cheering on his team from
the stands, Jerome is blogging about The NFL for