DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 16: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers and the players on the side lines react to the video replay call on a late fourth quarter touchdown during a NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 16, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The 49ers won 25-19 (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh just wrapped up his usual Monday press conference and as expected there were numerous questions about the handshake incident. Thankfully I'd imagine this story is close to dying out barring a playoff meeting. However, Coach Harbaugh's personality in that instance and really throughout this season seems to be part of the 49ers success. He has instilled a blue collar work ethic that is actually working. We hear talk about teams wanting to be blue collar and have a strong work ethic, but for once it is coming through and creating success for this team.
Mike Lombardi had a really interesting article that was on the cover of NFL.com this morning. I highly recommend reading it as it gives a little more insight into the personality of Coach Harbaugh. There have been times lately where I wondered if the team might start believing its own press a little too much. Overconfidence is usually a concern when a team starts to play well, particularly after a recent success drought.
However, Coach Harbaugh has been working to instill a "one day at a time" type of mindset and it really does seem to be working thus far. It has reached the point where the team even reflects those comments in just about every media session. This is a team that has bought into Coach Harbaugh hook, line and sinker. You can see it in these post-game locker room speeches. More importantly, he is so competitive that he seems to work to make sure his team is focusing one game at a time.
It will be interesting to see how the team responds when/if they hit a rut. The team can't win every game, but I suppose telling them they can't do something only inspires them to do more. They have several tough challenges remaining this season, with arguably the biggest being at Baltimore on Thanksgiving. The Ravens are looking like the best team in the AFC at the moment and continued success by both teams will make for a crazy atmosphere when brother meets brother in Baltimore.
For now though, Coach Harbaugh is not looking ahead to that. He is looking ahead to re-watching the game tonight, conducting a light workout tomorrow and working on some game-planning Wednesday. it has become a cliche to say, "We're gonna take it one day at a time" but the 49ers really seem to be doing that.
In the span of ten weeks, they have turned into an extension of Coach Harbaugh's personality and it really is a sight to behold. This is a team that will continue to develop one day at a time, and this is a team that refuses to accept can't in their vocabulary.
There was an interesting article about Harbaugh having dinner with his brother and Jim Schwartz early in the offseason during the lockout. Schwartz reportedly discussed how difficult it would be for first year coaches coming out of the lockout and heading into this season I was convinced the 49ers would start slow and build into a second half team, if even by then. Thankfully I was incredibly wrong as Harbaugh has this team moving in the right direction a lot sooner than I expected.
The team will eventually struggle and lose some games. I don't know when it will happen, but that is simply the nature of the NFL. In spite of that I think the team will be able to battle through this kind of adversary in large part due to the amazing personality and drive of Coach Harbaugh. Normally we are primarily concerned about on-field "stuff" but it is fun having this kind of coach roaming the sidelines.