On why 49ers fans love Jim Harbaugh; Or, the Justin Smith epic revisited

Brian Bahr - Getty Images

Let's take a look at a big reason why we 49ers fans love Coach Harbaugh.

Okay, so there are a lot of reasons why Niners fans love Harbaugh. For one, he is better than other coaches. Like way better. Obviously, he is still new to this league, and a lot can change, but his first season and a half have been super impressive. He's been outcoached maybe two or three times since entering the league. That's darn good.

So even though there are a myriad of reasons as to why Niners fans love Harbaugh, one of them was completely on display this last week with the whole Justin Smith controversy. Kevin Gilbride acted like a first-class idiot. Not because he called Justin out for holding. I mean, it's clearly an attempt to leverage the refs - but whatever. That's a cheap trick (guess what band's stuck in your head for the rest of the day!), but I'm willing to acknowledge its pervasiveness throughout the sport. It happens.

No, what really bothered me was the underlying logic of the comments: Gilbride is essentially claiming that something completely out of his control or his players' control is causing Smith to do well. Really, it boils down to creating excuses for his players. "My players can't stop him," he says, "so he must be cheating." Instead of giving credit where credit is due, Gilbride attacks another player.

Harbaugh doesn't do this. I cannot even count the times he has complimented the players on other teams. When another player performs well, he gives them credit. Now, when it is his own guy, well the praise overfloweth - but this is understandable. A coach does that. But, and this is key, when another player has success at the expense of his own, Harbaugh has his guy's back. Kyle Williams is a great example of this type of mentality. When Kyle fumbles, Harbaugh is right there supporting him, not creating excuses for him. Gilbride does no favors for his players when he creates excuses for them. I tend to respect Harbaugh's treatment of his players way more.

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