So, we are down to the final four in the NFL, with the two conference championships due up next. Among these remaining teams are the Baltimore Ravens, led by head coach John Harbaugh, and the San Francisco 49ers coached by his brother, Jim Harbaugh. Because they are in separate conferences, there is a chance they could meet in the Super Bowl, but to both advance this far is quite a remarkable accomplishment in itself.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is a year older than his brother and has a longer head coaching tenure. John has led the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his four seasons as head coach. The team will travel to Foxboro, MA to face the New England Patriots with the winner advancing to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. Prior to his head coaching gig with the Ravens, John spent nine years as an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles coaching defensive backs and special teams.
This will be the Ravens second trip to the AFC Championship, during John’s tenure as head coach, as they lost to Pittsburgh in 2008. Although the Ravens have played eight playoff games under John Harbaugh, this past Sunday’s victory over the Houston Texans was the of those games played at home, so the John’s Ravens are road tested in big games.
Jim Harbaugh is only in his first year as head coach for the San Francisco 49ers, but his path to this position is a bit more colorful than that of his older brother. Jim was the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, and yes, the Baltimore Ravens over a 14-year playing career in the NFL. He led the pre-Peyton Colts to the AFC Championship in 1995, coming within one dropped “Hail Mary” pass against the Steelers of taking the Colts to the Super Bowl, and coming in second that year in NFL MVP voting behind Brett Favre.
After retiring in 2001, Jim was an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders, before turning around two college programs, San Diego University and Stanford, as head coach. This climaxed with an 11–1 Stanford team in 2010 and a blowout victory in the Orange Bowl, Stanford’s first Bowl victory in 14 years. Just days after that victory, Jim Harbaugh was offered a a 5-year $25 million contract to become the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers, a team with a great tradition but who had not made the playoffs since 2002. In his first season this year, he led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and a #2 seed in the NFC playoffs. After defeating the New Orleans Saints in dramatic fashion this past Saturday, the 49ers will host the New York Giants this coming Sunday night.
The father of the Harbaugh brothers is Jack Harbaugh, who was an assistant coach at Michigan under legendary coach Bo Schembechler, as well as several other colleges over a long career, obviously establishing a strong pedigree of coaching success. The brothers faced off for the first time as coaching foes on Thanksgiving night in Baltimore, with John’s Ravens defeating the Jim’s 49ers 16-6. They would each love to have a rematch in Indianapolis on February 5th.
Tuesday Morning Tailback is a weekly article during football season which take a critical look at the NFL. We do this from the base belief that NFL football is the greatest game in the history of mankind, but some recent policies and the overall direction of the league has chipped away at this greatness. Our primary goal is to spark debate on these subjects, so please leave your own opinion on this article in the comment box below.