The 49ers are hoping to get both Nick Bosa and Mooney Ward back against the Chiefs, but they wouldn’t be the only big names returning to Levi’s Stadium on Sunday.
Jim Harbaugh returns this week as well.
For anyone that doesn’t remember, Jim Harbaugh’s time in San Francisco was a white-hot meteorite that was basically the complete opposite of Kyle Shanahan’s tenure along the sidelines. The Shanahan era sputtered out of the gate with 9 straight losses and two straight double-digit loss seasons. Harbaugh had a much better roster and burst onto the scene (after a lockout) by winning 10 of his first 12 games, finishing 13-3, beating the Saints in one of the most memorable playoff games of all-time, and narrowly losing to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game. Legendary coach and broadcaster John Madden called that first year the best coaching job in the history of the NFL.
From a pure football standpoint, Jim goes down as the third best coach in the history of the 49ers behind Bill Walsh and George Seifert. His .695 winning percentage trails only George in franchise history, and his 44 regular season wins rank sixth in 49ers history - two above Kyle Shanahan, in 23 fewer games. Harbaugh remains the only head coach in league history to reach the conference title game in each of his first three seasons, and he was arguably a penalty flag away from winning a Super Bowl.
Of course, with Harbaugh wins and losses were never the whole story. He was downright weird during media sessions. He melted down on the sidelines. He almost fought other head coaches, he definitely fought with his general manager, and oh yeah, he was nearly traded to the Cleveland Browns. Not to mention that time he reportedly kicked Jed York out of a team meeting by saying, “This meeting is for men only.”
The whole story is honestly almost too crazy to believe, which is probably why Secret Base did a whole episode on it that you should definitely watch.
Notably, Harbaugh won’t be the only member of that 2012 team in attendance this week. According to Tim Kawakami, Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Vic Fangio and even Aldon Smith will be joining him. But we’ve seen some of those faces after their time ended in San Francisco. Jim Harbaugh returns for the first time after a bitter, bitter divorce.
While clearly unintentional by the 49ers, the reunion doesn’t come at an ideal time for Kyle Shanahan. After a disappointing loss in Atlanta last week, Kyle is facing more heat than ever before. He could also be facing a significant halftime deficit to Kansas City at the time the ceremony is taking place, a scenario he hasn’t done well with in his career. Not exactly the perfect time for the coach nobody wanted fired in the first place to receive a standing ovation from the home fans.
The Tale of the Tape: Shanahan vs. Harbaugh
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