Best and worst coaching performances of the Harbaugh Era

The five best coaching performances of the Jim-Harbaugh Era:

1. 49ers 45, Packers 31; NFC Divisional Playoff; January 12, 2013; Candlestick: Perfect offensive game plan, perfect defensive game plan. The Packers’ defense couldn’t handle anything the 49ers’ offense did, especially the read-option. And the Packers’ offense couldn’t handle the 49ers’ blitzes and stunts.

2. 49ers 32, Bears 7; Week 11; November 19, 2012; Candlestick: Colin Kaepernick’s first start. The Bears expected the 49ers to run the ball. The Bears loaded the box with eight, nine defenders. Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman expected this and countered with deep play-action passes, trusting the arm of their neophyte quarterback. Their trust paid off this time. The 49ers blew the Bears out of the water.

3. 49ers 36, Saints 32; NFC Divisional Playoff; January 14, 2012; Candlestick: Back-to-back perfectly orchestrated touchdown drives to win the game. “QB-9″ — Alex Smith’s 28-yard TD run — and “Vernon Post” are two of the best play calls in Harbaugh History.

4. 49ers 30, Packers 22; Week 1; September 9, 2012; Lambeau: Another clever offensive game plan, running Frank Gore outside and Kendall Hunter up the middle. The Packers expected the opposite; Hunter outside and Gore up the middle.

5. 49ers 28, Falcons 24; NFC Conference Championship; January 20, 2013; Georgia Dome: Poor game plans on offense and defense and the players came out flat, but the coaches didn’t panic. Even when they were losing 17-0, they stuck with the running game. The 49ers came all the back and won even though Kaepernick attempted only 21 passes.

The five worst coaching performances of the Jim-Harbaugh Era:

1. 49ers 31, Ravens 34; Super Bowl XLVII; February 3, 2013; Superdome: The 49ers were not prepared for the first play of the game — the offense committed an illegal formation penalty. The 49ers were not prepared for the end of the game, either. Jim Harbaugh didn’t use his final timeout on fourth-and-goal with the Super Bowl on the line. He allowed Kaepernick to heave a hopeless pass to the back pylon instead.

2. 49ers 17, Seahawks 23; NFC Conference Championship; January 19, 2014; CenturyLink: Even though the 49ers had Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree on the field together, the offensive game plan didn’t work and neither did the adjustments. The only thing that worked was Kaepernick’s improvisation. At the end of the game, Harbaugh didn’t manage the clock well, didn’t use his timeouts quickly enough on the final drive. The 49ers lost with timeouts to burn, just like in the Super Bowl.

3. 49ers 3, Seahawks 29; Week 2; September 15, 2013; CenturyLink: The read-option didn’t work and the 49ers didn’t adjust. The players came out flat and lost their cool at the end of the game. They weren’t focused. Neither was Harbaugh. He created a distraction leading up to the game when he made fun of Clay Matthews.

4. 49ers 9, Panthers 10; Week 10; November 9, 2013; Candlestick: The 49ers got out-coached even though they were coming off a Bye week and had one more week to prepare than the Panthers. Harbaugh and Roman moved the pocket just twice, and Kaepernick got sacked six times.

5. 49ers 7, Colts 27; Week 3; September 22, 2013; Candlestick: The under-center-power-run game was working in the first quarter and Harbaugh and Roman abandoned it for the pistol, which didn’t work. Harbaugh also made a mistake playing Aldon Smith a few days after he drove his truck into a tree while he was drunk on the way to practice.

  1. I think the Cowboys game from week 2 of his first season should belong somewhere in the bottom 5.

      1. Yeah those rams games of 2012..headscratchers…u let akers lose it twice..the first game okay I get it..but second time..akers would’ve been walking from st.Louis to san Francisco if I was the coach..I lost faith in akers after that..expected misses from that point on..

    1. Jack:

      Second game coaching in the NFL after the lockout limited the coaches’ ability to install and teach their schemes? I’m willing to Harbaugh some slack for that game.

      1. His decision to keep the field goal instead of taking the first down came back to cost them. That had nothing to do with the lockout, etc.

        It was a bad coaching decision.

        1. I was at that game and I looked at my buddy and shook my head…he could have taken the penalty, run three dive plays, kicked the field again but most importantly, he could have taken time off the clock…the Cowboys wouldn’t have had time to tie it at the end, let alone get it into overtime…this was the first of many head scratching moments in the Harbaugh Era for me…

          1. You don’t get to three straight NFC championships by making many head scratching decisions so I really don’t know what your trying to say by that

            1. With the talent on this team it should have been three straight Super Bowl wins…some of his coaching decisions have cost this team, especially in those big games…

        2. It wasn’t what I would have done, but plenty of good coaches would have done what Harbaugh did.

          1. Love hindsight analysis. Not really, just enjoy all the experts talking about how it was a poor coaching decision and they would have done it differently.

            There are few Coaches that are going to take points off the board that put them ahead by two scores in the 4th quarter. The reason is simple, if you take those points off the board you are gambling that two score advantage and could either turn the ball over or miss the ensuing FG attempt. Running off more clock is fine and dandy but with 11 minutes left in the game that is not a reason to pull points off the board.

            There was nothing wrong with the decision. The problem was the defense after playing a heck of a game for 3 and a half quarters failed to protect the lead. Harbaugh trusted his defense and based his decision on that. They failed for one of the few times they actually did that season. It happens.

  2. Best games..

    1.Beating greenbay in freezing below temps this past jan..was wow! Amazing..

    2.Detroit hand shake game-thats when I knew this team had something goin on.they were 5-0..we were 4-1..I was nervous goin into that game too..but we did it..

    3.Going into the patriots house amidst the tragedy of the school shooting snd where brady doesn’t lose and beat them..wow.
    4.when we beat green bay in their house to kick off the 2012 season..a place we didn’t and couldn’t win.in like ages…against A-Rodge..Another statement game..I was impressed..

    5.Philly game in 2011..the comeback set us up in a different direction..we’re a different team..can win in the east don’t matter..

    Worst
    1.letting kyle Williams continued to return punts in the 2011 nfc championship game..coughlin told his players to catch it and get down..or get away from it…Wasted season..cause our defense was the best that yr..I still can’t believe we lost that game..aint no way that should have happened..
    2..another giants victory…we were waiting on the revenge for that 2011nfc championship game..only to get our behinds kicked again..bad..

    3..Ravens-superbowl..he just wasn’t prepared to face his big brother..a guy that he knows his tricks..they learned from the same guy..their father.lol..john had a killer instinct..it showed on thanksgiving the prior season..Jim obviously didn’t learn from that..

    4..2013 nfc championship game in seattle..conservatism did him in again..u up 10-0..quieted the crowd..the aldon Smith strip sack u could tell he was playing for field goals..and not to lose..tried to bluff on fourth and 2..instead of goin for it..keep the chains and clock movin..like the superbowl..u had four tries to get it in…smh..poor second half..let his players get off track

    5..cowboys game of 2011
    At one point Jim elects to keep the points on the board..instead of a fresh set of downs off cowboys penalty..im like wtf..Romo with broken ribs became a week 2 hero..and legend..we lost in overtime..I got scared and the thoughts of the Minnesota game where Favre did us in..im like I guess aint much changed from the singletary years….and the Philly game we were getting blown out..im like “well its back to reality..back to losing”.but Harbaugh held the team together..

    1. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I don’t really blame the coaches for keeping Williams in as the return man against the Giants. That was simply the coach showing faith in a player, that then let him and the team down badly. I think most coaches would have made the same decision – he was the team’s best return man. Those mistakes were on Williams – stupid, boneheaded mistakes.

      I don’t list that game as one of the worst coaching performances (I actually think they did quite well to only go down late given they only had Crabtree and Davis as viable receiving options), but as one of the worst individual performances by a player that cost the game.

      1. I’m with you Scooter. Not sure exactly what Harbaugh was supposed to do different in that situation realistically. Suggesting he put players who have never returned a punt back there in the NFCCG makes no sense whatsoever.

        1. rocket:

          Nice try, but you’re not using the benefit of hindsight. Kendall Hunter couldn’t have done worse than Williams, so it’s obvious that Harbaugh should have had him in there.

          Of course, by that same logic, Harbaugh also should have put Chilo Rachal back to return punts. He had as much experience returning punts as Hunter, and he couldn’t have done worse than Williams

  3. Philly game was big. Made fans call for Reid’s head. Minnesota loss to Ponder was sickening

  4. Easily the Super Bowl #1 number two last years championship game against the Seahawks#2 and the Dallas Cowboys game#3

  5. The giants NFC championship game letting Kyle Williams fumble not once not twice but three times until he single-handedly lost the game for them he would’ve been pulled when he dropped the ball on the reverse

    1. Especially when kyle was out there diving for balls..that’s reckless..and reckless to leave him out there

        1. Kendall Hunter,or just specifically tell kyle just to get away from it..don’t leave a shaky guy out there continuing to field it..

          1. You criticize Harbaugh for being too conservative in two other games, but for this game, you criticize him for not being sufficiently conservative.

            1. Different game..different circumstances…that giant’s game..its mathematics and pretty cut and dry….Kyle’s fumbles set the giants up to win..why he is left out there to fumble again?lol

              1. And your proposed solution was to put a less experienced returner out there? You can’t have it both ways. Either you want Harbaugh to coach conservatively, or you don’t.

              2. Why not? Harbaugh already had Swain in there as a starter at WR, so I don’t see how having a less experienced returner replace Williams would have been a worse decision than that one.

              3. The problem is that those were the choices Claude. Harbaugh should have done a better job at WR once Braylon Edwards was let go. And Hunter could’ve been given a shot as a returner during the game. What’s the worst that could’ve happened? That he messed as well?

              4. Kendall Hunter has never returned a punt in the NFL. He never returned a punt in college. Yet, you think Harbaugh made an egregious mistake by not sending out a rookie to do something he had never done before in overtime of the NFCCG. Smh.

              5. >> you think Harbaugh made an egregious mistake by not sending out a rookie in overtime of the NFCCG to do something he had never done previously.

              6. When I see my return man having problems all game..yes..hunter,swain,hell Crabtree..I don’t care anybody..like u say hindsight..it came back to haunt us..

              7. Harbaugh had no one else to put out there. The fault lies with Williams for not doing his job.

                If you want to fault Harbaugh for anything in that game, fault him for going away from the run. The Giants devoted their resources to defending the pass, and, as a result, Gore was gaining 4.6 yards/carry and the 49ers as a team were gaining 5+ yards/carry. Yet, for some reason, the 49ers called 24 running plays and 33 passing plays.* That’s the thing I couldn’t understand.

                But sticking with your No. 2 punt returner because your No. 1 returner was injured and you had no one else with any experience? That wasn’t bad coaching.

                * At least four of Smith’s six runs were scrambles after the protection broke down on designed passing plays.

            2. There is merit to that Claude. Each game that Harbaugh has lost is because the offense either gets too sickeningly cute or mind boggling ultra conservative.

              1. I never said that they didn’t Claude, but Harbaugh is the one who put the personnel on the field, with Swain and Williams as one example of the bad choices.

        2. You’re right, Ginn Jr. was out and there was nobody else. It’s not like Williams volunteered. Tough loss, but when you’re facing a fresh defense, things like that happen. The Giants got better at just the right time when they faced the Niners.

  6. We hate the decision to take the points and not the first down against Dallas because we ended up losing the game. Consider though that Harbaugh could have accepted the penalty (and first down) and the Niners might have ended that drive with a turnover or missed field goal. Then after losing we would all point to the FG that Harbaugh took off the board as a major factor in the loss.

  7. Tough to make an argument against any of those choices, but I believe that the loss to the Giants in the 2011 NFCC game should be number three.

  8. I mistakenly thought I was the only one who thought there were terrible mistakes made by the 49er coaching staff….my apologies guys…

  9. The most disturbing thing about this article is that the most important games are the one that coaching fails. The 49ers were not ready for the big stage of the SB. The ravens jumped out to a huge lead which had happened just 2 weeks before against falcons. Unacceptable. Thats really what cost them. Not the final 4 plays. They were the far better team but unfortunately didnt know it. The first play from scrimmage for the seagulls was a fumble recovered by the 49ers at the seattles 15 yard line or so. When they couldn’t score 6 I knew the game was over

    1. Some credit has to be given to the opposing defense. In the case of the Giants playoff game, they were not that good early in the year. As they got players back, the defense improved greatly and was finely tuned when they faced the Niners.

  10. 1) 2011, Week 2, Dallas

    Niners up 21-14 late in the 4th. Time is running out. Akers kicks a field goal to make it 24-14. But wait. A penalty on Dallas gives the 49ers 15 yards and a new set of downs.

    Great news. The game is in the bag. Even if they got stuffed 3 plays in a row, and Akers somehow misses the easy the much closer field goal, the time ran off the clock would have roughly as much strategic value as 3 points. Its an almost perfect “zero negative possible outcome” situation. A no brainer. Harbs will take the penalty.

    Harbaugh declines the 15 yard penalty with the ancient “don’t want to take points off the board.” I’m stunned. Romo goes nuts. The 49ers drop the game in OT.

    2) 2011, Week 5, Tampa Bay

    The 49ers up 41-3 late in the 4th with time running out. Harbaugh inserts rookie Colin Kaepernick. A few plays later, the 49ers face a 4th and 2. Up 41-3 late in the 4th, I’m expecting punt, kneel down, field goal or clock chewing run.

    Instead Harbaugh calls a long “what’s-your-deal” sideline pass to Josh Morgan. Its completed, but Morgan gets hurt and is out for the season.

    This has a ripple effect that haunts the 49ers later. Punt return phenom Ginn is pressed into action as a WR to replace Morgan later in 2011, gets hurt and can’t return punts in the playoffs. His replacement is…

    Despite all this I think Harbaugh’s done a great job.

    1. It wasn’t late in the 4th qtr vs Dallas. The penalty on Dallas happened with just under 12 minutes left in 4th.

      1. Good call. Thanks for the info. I still wince at the decision to decline the penalty.

  11. Funny how a power running team like the 49ers often forgets to run, like the game vs the Colts and the end of Super Bowl vs the Ravens.

    I would not be surprised if we read years from now Gore just couldn’t go. Gore can take (and give) a pounding, but when he rips off long runs he’s often shot for the game. I’m guessing Gore has a hip issue we will find out about after he retires. Long runs take him out of games.

    With Hunter gone and Gore shot for the rest of the SB, the 49ers red zone options were limited. Not saying Roman’s calls were great, but his choices were less then meets the eye.

    1. Very interesting thoughts. Still, call timeout before fourth down. Set up the proper protections and call a play. That’s basic stuff in football and basketball, making the defense declare what it’s going to do, then calling timeout.

      49ers should have been prepared for the cover 0 blitz at the goal line. Ravens did it on the two-point conversion, too. It’s what they do in those situations.

      1. You don’t know that they didn’t prepare for it and then still broke down on execution.

      1. Was that the Kaepernick run that was blown dead when the 49ers called time out? I still wince about that. Can’t remember who, but a Raven’s coach said it would have been a walk-in TD.

          1. Just to be clear, on that play, if Harbaugh hadn’t called a TO, the 49ers would’ve been flagged for delay of game. But, yes, Kaepernick would’ve scored, untouched.

            They should’ve gone back to that play, they couldn’t have done any worse.

    2. This is one I agree with in regards to poor coaching. They weren’t ready to start the game and the final drive ending at the 5 showed some suspect coaching. One of the few times I’ve seen that from these guys.

  12. Matt M. tweets “there’s no way” Boonie reports to TC w/o a new deal. More summer work for Looney and Martin and Martin. TBD.

    1. The man is an idiot. He should know better than to use that weak tactic against Baalke.

  13. If Martin is able to start at Center why wouldn’t Kilgore be the front runner for RG if Boone continues to pout.

  14. I favor Looney over Kilgore. Even in the red zone jumbo packages, I never saw Kilgore “win” any one on ones.

      1. Me too – I’d be more inclined to try and work Looney into the line-up at RG than Kilgore.

        With Boone holding out, what are the chances he gets traded? Lots of depth at the position with Looney, M. Martin/ Kilgore (whoever loses the centre battle), Snyder and J. Martin (as well as some lesser known names).

        1. I could actually see three different position groups with trade possibilities by the end of training camp. RB/G/DL ~ Hunter/Kilgore/Williams

        2. @Scooter

          I’d be cautious in any trades in the Oline right now…what are you gonna’ get that ‘s an improvement…Hey, we got Boone for a song, and he’s been our most consistant O lineman for 38 straight games…pay the man

          1. The problem there is the 49ers already have a lot of money tied up in other positions, and they don’t believe in paying top dollar for interior linemen. Iupati will be gone next year, and Boone is unlikely to get a massive deal. If he’s happy to take a relatively small increase in pay to stay then I can see it happening, but if he wants a big money deal he won’t get it at the 49ers.

  15. Scooter I heard a quote the other night on a show that not only made me LOL but made me think of you, hope you appreciate it as much as I did.

    This particular Aussy character thought his friends(incorrectly) were about to stage an intervention because of his drinking and before they could say anything he tried to explain it away by saying;

    “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m Australian.”

    gave me a good chuckle.

    1. Lol!!

      Its one of those that is funny because the stereotype is actually pretty accurate. Big binge drinking culture over here, though I have started to slow down some in recent years…

        1. Haha! That’s definitely an Aussie saying claude, but about 20 to 30 years out of date :-)

        1. I made the mistake of trying to go pint for pint with an Irishman once. I don’t recall much of the night…

          1. Yep, difficult to beat anyone at their sweet spot game. Rooskies (Lithuanians, actually) drinking Vodka comes to mind too; short night, long morning-after. Mescal? Hah, good luck wid dat!

  16. Not only should the Niners have called timeout against the ravens to see what the defense wanted to do. It would also have been a good time for Harbaugh to remind Kap to read the defense and hit the open man instead of blindly throwing at Crabtree no matter the coverage or how open other wrs are on the play.

  17. The first five wins in Harbaugh career come to mind for me.

    1. Seattle 17 at SF 33. 9/11/11 Harbuaghs first game in shorten preseaon intense pressure, We all remember what Ginn did.

    2. SF 13 at Bengals 8 9/25/11 Harbaughs first game on the road and after a heartbreaking loss at home to the Cowboys. Was the first signs of how good the defense was.

    3. SF 24 at Eagles 23 10/2/11. Harbaughs first back to back road games and what a game it was. Second half comeback.

    4. Bucs 3 at SF 48 10/9/11. Where did that come from? Who are these guys.

    5. SF. 25 at Lions 10/16/11. Lions were 5 and 0 the Niners 4-1. Last play of the game for the Niners, fourth and six and Alex to Walker. Then to end it, is the famous handshake.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzfTC1XW_yQ

    It was JH first five victories when we realized we had something special.

    1. The only coaching decision that was questionable in the Bucs game was leaving Josh Morgan in the game and putting Kaepernick in. The next play resulted in a broken leg for Morgan and the Niners didn’t have him for the rest of the year.

    1. Razor,
      The Legends Game may as well have been a WWE event in that the end results was already predetermined.
      The game was close (like most wrestling matches) an the winning TD pass from Montana to a wide open (of all people) Eddie D (who was left open as if he had the plague) was purely scripted.

      Still, a fun time especially with the all the football stars bringing back so many great memories at the ol’ Stick. The fact that Joe brought so many players in to participate was awesome.
      Couldn’t have been a better way to send out the Old Girl.

        1. Likely not. Just bad throws by Young.
          But Eddie D catching the winning TD pass from Montana?
          C’mon (lol).

          1. You realize they’ve been practicing that play, for just such a scenario, seven months?

            1. Good one Razor. But I wonder what plan B would have been had Eddie D dropped the cotton-candy pass from Montana :)

              All good. Nice way to say a final good-bye to Candlestick.

        2. Steve Young threw two pick-sixes? I am shocked that E hasn’t created yet another account so that he can gloat about it. Seriously, he must be sorting the biggest schadenfreude boner right now.

  18. So maybe Harbaugh is right. You can win with great defense and plodding offense.
    Germany 1, Argentina 0.
    ; >)

    1. @Neal

      I’m not sure, but I think that at the end of the ’13 NFLWC game, when the block and interception happened, Sherman realized it was over and turned to shake hands, gloat, and Crabtree reached up and grabbed his facemask. Like I say, I don’t know but that’s what I saw as a beginning…after that, Sherman went ballistic….anyone add to that or deny it……?

  19. Off subject: Bruce Ellington is not the black Wes Welker, he will prove to be a real 4th rnd steal….He runs a 4.45 40, Welker’s best 40 was 4.65, when Welker was young. Ellington is more than a return man, he might not be an impact player this year but lookout next year and beyond. To me he’s a shorter version of Victor Cruz……Ellington will be special……Trust the Crab fellas……..
    Thank you again Baalke!!

    1. Crab:

      Bruce Ellington is not the black Wes Welker …

      I did not know that anyone had said he was. Not that it would be a bad thing. Then again, you seem to be suggesting that he will be better than Welker. From your mouth to God’s ears.

      1. C Balls – The black Wes Welker thing was a self-creation in my own head bro….I’m trying to convince myself that Ellington brings more to the table than Welker.
        C Balls, has this off season seemed like forever to you too? I’m bored to death man! How are you dealing with it?

    1. CH: So, what kind of car does Fangio drive?
      AS: I don’t know.
      CH: You should find out.

    2. CH: So, what’s Blaine Gabbert’s wife look like?
      AS: I don’t know. Why?
      CH: I’ll tell you later.

    3. At the end of his playing days Charles Haley was (and may still be) dealing with being the parent of an ill child. It sobered him up in attitude (not substances) in an all-too-cruel way. I’d be willing to bet he was offering some helpful thoughts to Aldon.
      Xlnt photo.

      1. Brotha:

        He also suffer from bipolar disorder, and being on meds has made a huge difference. That said, the stories are legendary.

        1. CB
          Yeah, you reminded me of the bi-polar issue, and oh Gawd was he a crazy mf!
          When thinking about athletes or celebs I have two questions as measures:
          -Would I have them in my house for dinner?
          -Would I want them as a next door neighbor?
          Old Charles- heck no
          New Charles- probably yes

    4. CB,
      Great pic. More importantly, it actually looked as if Aldon was intently listening to what Haley had to say.

      Haley does not live in a cave and no doubt is aware of Aldon’ off field issues and huge on field talent.
      Perhaps Haley see’s himself in Aldon of 25 yrs ago, and felt a quick connection with him.

      In any case, I would hope that Haley could possibly take on a mentor interest in Aldon because I truly believe that Aldon could listen to someone who has been where he is at the moment.

      5 yrs from now maybe the best thing to come out of the Legends game is that Aldon and Haley were able to talk and perhaps build from that initial meeting and help Aldon become a more mature man.

  20. Bill Williamson on ESPN, not my favorite writer, has a short piece on Boone’s holdout that puts it in reasonable perspective.

  21. 1. The Cowboys game 2011. Harbaugh can defend keeping the field goal all day, but if posed with the same situation today, he would keep the ball and run clock.

    2. Second Rams game in 2012. Calling a pitch play inside his own 15 yard line with a rookie QB was his first mistake. With less than 2:00 on the clock, Kaepernick rips off a 50 yard run. All they had to do was run clock and kick the field goal. Instead Roman called two pass plays which fell incomplete leaving plenty of time for the Rams to drive down and tie the game.

    3. NFC Championship game versus Giants. Inexplicably stopped running the ball and put the game in Alex Smith’s hands.

    4. NFC Championship part 2 Leaving Williams in to return puts after the first fumble.

    5. Colts 2013. Frank Gore was gashing the Colts. We were controlling the tempo of the game. So what does Roman do? Stops running the ball.

  22. Let’s clear the record: The first Kyle Williams “fumble” in the 2011 NFCC game wasn’t a fumble but a brain lock by Williams. Once the ball hits the ground, any high school player knows to get away from it since there’s nothing good that can happen. Williams surrounded it like he was on defense and the ball bounces to touch him. Get the hell out of there!!!!!
    Still smarting.

    1. Maybe I’m soft, but I’ve always felt Kyle was desperately unlucky on that play, The ball was bouncing around, could have gone anywhere, there was probably a 1% chance it would hit him and it did! by the slimmest of margins, even with brain lock, he was damned unfortunate that the ball skimmed his leg. To win Super Bowls you need lady luck to smile your way, that day she dressed in blue :(.

  23. The problem with Williams was his inability to multitask. The ability to focus on more than one thing at a time- and essential ability for any returner. It took them entirely too long to figure that out. I put that on the special teams coach. He should know about that sort of thing, but it is evident that he is clueless in that respect. When his eyes are on the gunners he loses sight of the ball and visa versa.

  24. We tend to forget the first of Williams’ three major blunders… dropping the ball in the reverse. The 49ers recovered, but it killed a promising drive.

    Had KW only committed two gross errors, the 49ers would have stomped NE in the Super Bowl.

  25. Harbaugh probably has the highest winning percentage a HC in this league has ever had in their first 3 years. He’s made some mistakes but they pale in comparison to what he’s achieved in a very short time. We are extremely lucky to have this guy.

    1. Harbs has done an amazing job. For three season’s the 49ers have been at the top of the heap, while the Ravens and Giants had to reload.

      1. It’s funny that Grant listed both Harbaugh’s 5 best and his 5 worst performances, but the commenters seem fixated on what they perceive as bad performances.

        1. I think much of the human race has occasional “Irish Alzheimers” (you only remember the grudges). For some reason the negative moments are clearer.

          Also, Harbaugh’s strengths are not about game moments. His strengths include teaching the art of football, making football fun for players, building excellent coaching staffs, keeping teams focused and motivated, developing a team mentality, getting the most our of players, identifying hidden talent, succeeded with a unique and contrarian offensive system, work ethic and so on. I’m sure I forgot a few.

          Harbs isn’t a moments guy. If he improves on that (specifically end of game management) the skys the limit.

          1. “Irish Alzheimers” (you only remember the grudges)
            ———————-
            Haha, pretty funny.

          2. Yeah, +1 on Irish Alzheimer’s. But also agree with the many points made. Also hope Harbs gets better on challenges, LOL! Woooo-wee.

          3. I agree Brodie. To take what you said one step further, I think Harbaugh’s main weakness (and I don’t think he has many) as a coach is his lack of poise in some situations, in particular in big moments. He’s so passionate that he can lose his head, but as a coach the one thing you need to do is keep your head in those moments. It is important for two reasons – to make better decisions, but to also keep the players level-headed.

            There has been a few times now in big games where the players have made poor decisions, and looked shaky, in big moments of big games. I put part of that on Harbaugh’s demeanour in those moments.

            If he can learn to keep himself under control and poised, I think that will go a long way to seeing this team perform better under stress.

            1. Captain Comeback needs a first mate that is a calming influence on him during those moments you two allude to. I nominate Jack…..

            2. Agree. The coaches emotions can bleed over onto the players. Sometimes that’s good (like building confidence and making the game fun for Alex Smith).

              Sometimes not. For example… look at the demeanor of Payton Manning after an unsuccessful play. It’s very “matter of fact.” He’s already focusing on the next play like a good transition basketball player would.

              I’d like to see more of that in Colin. It sends a clear message to the defense, saying “Big deal! You stopped this play, but but we have 40 more we are going ti kill you with.”

            3. I agree that Harbaugh completely loses sometimes and that is not what you want to see, but at the same time, I’ve never seen him lose focus when the game is on the line. He’ll scream at the refs at certain points of the game, but he’s got his mind where it needs to be when it matters most.

              I don’t think the players have been shaky in big moments very often, they have been to 3 NFCCG’s and a SB after all, and I certainly wouldn’t blame that on Harbaugh. What you can blame on Harbaugh is not overruling play calls that he probably should have such as the last series in the SB.

              The biggest issue I have with Harbaugh and the Coaching staff in general, is their preparation and readiness at the beginning of a game. It seems often that it takes a fairly lengthy amount of time for the team to start executing efficiently and that causes some problems at times.

    2. @Rocket

      you might check Holmgren when he took the reins at Green Bay…he inherited a complete team just like Harbaugh, and did quite well with it.

      1. Not even close Oregon. Holmgren went 9-7 his first 3 years, didn’t make the playoffs year one, and was out in the first round the next two. Harbaugh has done a far superior job than Holmgren did over the same period of time.

        1. rocket,
          Harbaugh has also done this with a QB with less then 2 seasons of NFL experience.
          Not bad at all.

          1. Very true AES. I don’t think some around here understand just how unprecedented this run of success is and how high up it stands historically.

            Much like the QB, a HC takes a lot of grief if he doesn’t win his last game of the season; most of it unjustly. Just part of the job.

            1. I can’t say it’s unprecedented..because..Andy Reid’s 2000-2004 eagles did it,levy’s bills and 70s Vikings.Harbaugh’s teams can’t seem to close the deal either.Call it bad luck,snakebit,unprelared,wasnt meant to be..or the other team bein better..It’s hard to understand from a fan’s perspective sometimes..I analyzed it over and over again..still don’t understand…..

              1. Deezy,

                Nobody you just mentioned won as many games in their first 3 years as Harbaugh has. That is what needs to be focused on here. So far they have been bridesmaids losing to the eventual SB champion, but I’d rather have that than what we experienced for the previous decade.

              2. I understand rocket..that 2003-2010 were terrible years..but with winning comes pressure..the stakes are higher now..just winning is not enough..u.got to have championships to back it up..and we were good enough..better than good to win them..moral victories..and second place don’t matter..trophies..bragging rights…history..Harbaugh’s resume is impressive..but a ring will make it even more impressive..

              3. Deezy,

                Of course winning a SB is the ultimate goal, but at the same time only one team wins it, and this team transitioned from a decade of failure to a SB contender in one lockout shortened offseason under Harbaugh.

                I want a SB win as much as anyone, but you have to be realistic when judging success. They lost to a much more experienced team the first two years (Giants and Ravens), and lost in the toughest stadium to win a road game in last year in Seattle. Sure it’s disappointing but there is a difference between disappointment and abject failure. You have to enjoy the ride instead of obsessing over not winning the SB imo.

              4. Rocket..I respect your upbeat glass half full thinking.. just be happy with what we have frame of mind..but I didn’t like the feeling at the end of these past three years..shock,disbelief,hurt,anger,sickening feeling,..That’s why we watch the game rocke to see our team hoist trophies..not take pride in reg season wins over failed championships..That’s a defeatist mentality..Reality is..we’ve finished second..that’s bein realistic

              5. Realistically..I know we can’t win the superbowl every year..we all accept that as fans..but I don’t expect us to come up short every year either

              6. Deezy,

                Don’t take my appreciation for what the Niners have accomplished as a feeling of satisfaction and not needing anything more. That is not the case at all. What I’m trying to get across to you is that you need to appreciate the ride, and enjoy all the victories instead of just focusing on not winning the SB. Again as I said, I want a SB as much as anybody, but I’m also not going to ignore how good this team became in a short time after a decade of misery.

                As for being a glass half full guy, sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not. There weren’t many glass half full views during the time before Harbaugh I can promise you that. I can appreciate what the team has accomplished and where they came from to achieve it. That’s the difference between us.

              7. Oh I appreciate the 2011 and 2012 seasons..so unexpected..joyous..2012 was alot of roller coastering.lol….Last season was up and down too.it felt like something special was gonna happen…at the end I was mad at Harbaugh and Trent..our weaknesses exposed..third down..redzone..nojumpball specialist receiver.another nailbiter…I was disgusted,mad and hurt.I love that we’re back on top In these past three years..I love it.I just don’t know if I can take a fourth year heartbreaking loss….

    3. Barry Switzer and Mike Tomlin are close, but they both won Super Bowls in their second year.

      1. Neither one of these guys took over a losing team, and both teams had won a SB a year prior to them being hired. Not even remotely the same.

        1. The 2010 team was talented enough to be in the playoffs, but they were stuck with a horrible coaching staff.

          1. That is pure speculation but doesn’t change the fact it took Harbaugh to get them to where they are. Dallas and Pittsburgh were already at that level when Switzer and Tomlin arrived.

            1. They weren’t eliminated from the playoffs until a week 16 loss, so the speculation is pretty strong.

              Your initial comment makes no reference to how the team was performing prior.

              1. Cut the spin Jack. The only reason they were in contention that long was because the division was awful and won by a team with a losing record.

                My comment was and continues to be: Harbaugh has had unprecedented success in his first 3 years as an NFL HC. The team was abysmal before he arrived. Talent can be debated but the record on the field cannot, and in no way resembles what Tomlin or Switzer walked into.

                Reid is about the closest example and he did not accomplish what Harbaugh has in the same period of time.

        1. I can save you a lot of time Jack. You won’t find another HC that has won as many games and had the playoff success Harbaugh has had in their first 3 seasons.

          As I said, It’s unprecedented.

          1. Harbaugh has done an amazing job. His record speaks to that.

            Coughlin took a team that had never played a down in the NFL and won 49 games over the first 5 seasons and 4 straight trips to the playoffs in years 2-5 of existence.

            Forget what his win loss record was. That’s more impressive than anything that Harbaugh has done so far in my opinion.

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