The lifelong sibling rivalry was palpable when Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh met his brother Jim before Super Bowl XLVII. For the first time in NFL history, two brothers faced off as opposing head coaches in a championship game. Naturally, Jim was disappointed when his 49ers were defeated in a close contest. Several years removed from this emotional game, Jim is more complimentary than ever of his big brother.
In a recent ESPN interview, Jim said. . .
"John is the best coach I know, the best I've ever come across or competed against. I'm envious of the grasp he has of the entire game. I think offensively and with quarterback play, I'm right there with him. But I've got a ways to go in terms of special teams and understanding defense the way he does. I'm half as good as John is, but I'm trying."
Jim Harbaugh is an excellent football coach in his own right. As the more athletically successful son of respected college football coach Jack Harbaugh, Jim made a name for himself as a coach while bringing the Stanford Cardinals to national prominence in 2010. Jim then lead the 49ers to three consecutive NFC Championship games from 2011-2013. Now, Jim is in the process of rebuilding the Michigan Wolverines program and has them poised to rejoin the annually successful blue-bloods of college football following a ten-win season and success on the recruiting trail.
Head-to-head, John is 2-0 against Jim, adding a memorable Thanksgiving night win in 2011 to the "Har-Bowl". If San Francisco had pulled off the comeback in the Super Bowl, a case could be made that Jim is the better coach since he does possess the better winning percentage as NFL head coach: .690 to .602. Of course John has coached in the league for twice as long and has twice as many playoff victories.
"Half as good as John" is clearly hyperbole from the rarely humble Jim. Considering that Jim’s Stanford teams toyed with defenses and that he turned Colin Kaepernick into a capable quarterback with the 49ers. Compared to John needing strong offensive coordinators to get the best out of Joe Flacco, Jim has the edge as an offensive coach. Jim’s defenses have also been very good in both college and the pros, but John has much more coaching experience on that side of the ball. John obviously has a big advantage in coaching the special teams phase.
Twice as good is an overstatement. 33 percent better seems more appropriate. Either way, both Harbaugh brothers are premier football coaches.Their father Jack must be proud.