Is it possible that the Harbaugh brothers are having better seasons than their wildly successful 2011 seasons?
Jim, coach of the 49ers, made it to the NFC Championship game last year, but fell short of a Super Bowl appearance in an overtime loss to the New York Giants. His elder brother John, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, suffered a similar fate, losing in the AFC Championship game.
Each just making it that far was an accomplishment, but the 2012 season has put both of these coaches on another level.
Jim's 49ers are SB Nation's third-ranked team in the latest power rankings and their defense looks like one for the ages. His best work, however, has been with quarterback Alex Smith who went from a No. 1 pick bust to the ideal game manager. The Ravens, meanwhile, are directly behind Jim's 49ers – ranked fourth. But for the first time possibly ever, the Ravens offense, and not the defense, is the strength of the team. It's been quite the turnaround from previous years.
In the head-to-head matchup, John has the advantage over Jim with the Ravens 16-6 victory over the 49ers on Thanksgiving last year. But with what we know about them, which brother is the better coach?
Although Jim played in the NFL from 1987-2000, there is nothing like real experience at this level. Having a team to lead with solid veterans only makes the transition to the top spot easier for John. Hiring coordinators with solid coaching resumes makes it easier for him and allows him to concentrate on what got him to this level in the first place. He learned this from their father, Jack – leadership, respect, motivation and knowing how to make his players better people. That combination as well as making the playoffs in all four of his head coaching seasons – and likely on his way to a fifth this year – makes John the better of the two coaching Harbaugh brothers. At least right now.
Jim Harbaugh has gotten off to a roaring start in less than two seasons as an NFL head coach. While his brother John has been great as the Ravens head coach, Jim Harbaugh brings a different set of experiences that make him ideally suited for the 49ers. While John Harbaugh went right into coaching and gained extensive experience at both the college and pro levels before taking over the Ravens, Jim Harbaugh followed his well-chronicled path as an NFL quarterback. Jim learned what it was like to be a first-round pick getting booed off the field in Chicago. He also learned what it was like to be "Captain Comeback" with the Indianapolis Colts. The quarterback is the one player who has to know just about everything that is happening in the game, which makes him perfectly suited to being a successful head coach.
While Jim had only two years of NFL coaching experience (Raiders QB coach) to go with his seven years at University of San Diego and Stanford, he has shown a willingness to surround himself with extensive experience. Jim has followed the "Team of Rivals" model that Abraham Lincoln followed, and has put together arguably the best coaching staff in football. Jim Harbaugh is involved in all facets of the game, but he has subject-matter experts that have helped turn the 49ers into possibly the most complete team in the NFL. This is why Jim Harbaugh is the better of the two coaching Harbaughs.
They each make a solid case.
Your team needs a coach to win one game: Which Harbaugh are you taking?
The Iconic Families series is brought to you by New York Life. At New York Life, everything we do is to help Keep Good Going. Find out how to keep the good in your life going at newyorklife.com.