The 49ers and Ravens are in the last game of the season not only because of their stellar play, but also because of their head coaches. The Harbaugh brothers have a natural ability to lead and get the most out of their players. While they have both landed in the same spot, their styles are different and they are different men, which showed this week.
The 49ers arrived Sunday night, a whole day earlier than the Ravens did. All the players walked off the plane wearing normal clothes and seemed to be treating it like a normal "business trip". Before the Ravens left Baltimore, they had a send off rally in which some of the players on the team spoke as well as John Harbaugh. Thousands of fans attended and it was a celebration of sorts. It almost felt like they won the Super Bowl the way they were talking. Jim would never have a send off rally for his team, he'd feel that would take away from the eye on the prize as well as it being a premature celebration. The 49ers try to limit distractions any way that they can, a rally could get to players heads and take away from the focus and seriousness of the week ahead. Jim knows Super Bowl Week can't be too fun, there's a war left to fight, and blood still to be shed.
Friday was an interesting joint press conference with the two brothers sitting next to each other fielding questions. Jim was in his usual attire. Black sweatshirt, khaki pants, black 49ers hat. John was in a suit looking like he should be on the next cover of GQ. Jim was a little more friendly to reporters for much of this week, but Friday he was more subdued and appeared to be in 100% game mode. John talked a lot more than Jim, was very friendly and elaborated giving everyone some good insight into the Harbaugh family psyche. You could tell Jim didn't want to be there. He loves John, but right now John is the enemy. Jim likens himself to a general and the team are his soldiers. He didn't want to be appear too friendly to the other general. It's not brother first, it's the team, the team, the team first.
I'm not saying one style is better than the other. Both teams have made it this far, and both can win the game. John is an exceptional head coach and it's his right to go Hollywood a little bit this week. But if I had to pick what style to Super Bowl Week I'd implement, it would be Jim's way. His focus resonates with his players and they latch on to it and prepare as well as any team in recent NFL history. Jim knows, as Billy Beane says in Moneyball, " If you lose the last game of the season, nobody gives a shit." If the 49ers win the last game, expect to see the happiest Jim Harbaugh you've ever seen. He might try to hold the smiles in with a grin, but if you look close enough you will see the joy.
Do you like Jim's approach this week or do you think it's cool John is really soaking up the full experience? Talk away Niners Nation.
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