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NFL Coach of the Year: Mike Smith earns Sporting News Award

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We take a look at Mike Smith earning NFL Head Coach of the Year via The Sporting News. Did Harbaugh deserve a nod?

USA TODAY Sports

The postseason awards circuit is picking up steam, as The Sporting News has begun naming their version of the awards. There will be plenty of these awards, culminating in the NFL Honors show the night before the Super Bowl. The Sporting News announced their Coach of the Year award today, going with Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith.

End of year awards are voted on before the playoffs, so given that context, where would you place Jim Harbaugh in the Coach of the Year balloting? I don't think he necessarily needed the playoffs to justify his decision to switch to Colin Kaepernick, but obviously some people did. The 49ers had some inconsistencies late, but they got their bye, even amidst the media turmoil of a new quarterback.

If someone voted when the regular season ended, they might not have been quite so sold on the 49ers. Instead, it's easiest to go with the coach of the team with the best record. The Broncos also finished 13-3, but voters probably figured Peyton Manning had more to do with that one.

Given that the Coach of the Year award is a regular season award, where does Jim Harbaugh settle in the debate?