Oliver Luck: Experience makes Harbaugh unique

I’m working on a newspaper story about Jim Harbaugh’s ability to develop quarterbacks – a trait of particular importance since the 49ers will soon have a young quarterback to develop.

So what’s the key to Harbaugh’s success? It depends on who you ask.

One of his former quarterbacks at USD (Todd Mortensen) stressed Harbaugh’s creative pro-style offense. And a veteran NFL coach (Ted Tollner) highlighted Harbaugh’s teaching ability.

For his part, Oliver Luck, a former NFL quarterback and the father of Harbaugh’s most famous signal-caller, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, pinpointed Harbaugh’s experience.

“I think a big part of his success in developing quarterbacks and developing Andrew is the fact that he played for 15 years and he’s seen it all,” Luck said. “There’s probably not a situation that a quarterback can get himself into that Jim hasn’t experienced firsthand … I think he’s probably seen every situation there is. So that’s helpful to a quarterback. It’s always good to get advice from people that have been there and done that.”

It’s true. No other assistant or head coach in the league has dropped back and examined an NFL defense more than Harbaugh, who ranks 46th in NFL history in pass attempts with 3,918. None of the other 45 quarterbacks ahead of him on the list is an NFL coach, assistant or otherwise. In fact, Harbaugh is the only NFL coach among the league’s top 75 in career pass attempts.

After succeeding at the NFL’s glamour position, ex-quarterbacks are supposed to reap the benefits.

That is, receive fat paychecks for hanging out in a broadcast booth or TV studio (think Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Boomer Esiason, Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Phil Simms, Trent Dilfer, Rich Gannon, Kurt Warner, Ron Jaworski, Joe Theismann, Trent Green, Terry Bradshaw, Steve Beuerlein …).

It makes sense, right? Why sleep on a cot in your office when you can cash in by yucking it up with Shannon Sharpe?

Harbaugh obviously didn’t get the memo, or the typical DNA.

The son of a coach, Harbaugh’s brother, John, is the Ravens coach and his sister, Joani, is married to Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean.

Harbaugh, regardless of his NFL success, was evidently destined for coaching, not color analysis.

Included below are the NFL’s career leaders in pass attempts, but first a few notes:

• Ken Anderson, No. 30 on the list, retired as the Steelers quarterbacks coach last year.

• Jim Zorn (No. 76) is the Ravens quarterbacks coach. Zorn is tied with Bart Starr, a notable standout NFL quarterback who became an NFL coach.

• Houston’s Gary Kubiak and Dallas’ Jason Garrett are the other NFL head coaches who were quarterbacks in the league. (New Orleans’ Sean Payton played during the 1987 strike). Kubiak and Garrett combined to throw 592 career passes.

• Brian Sipe (No. 62) is the quarterbacks coach at San Diego State (just a free fun fact).

Active players are in bold (for obvious reasons, I’m keeping Mr. Favre in black):

1. Brett Favre, 10,169
2. Dan Marino, 8,358
3. John Elway, 7,250
4. Peyton Manning, 7,210
5. Warren Moon, 6,823
6. Drew Bledsoe, 6,717
7. Vinny Testaverde, 6,701
8. Fran Tarkenton, 6,467
9. Kerry Collins, 6,163
10. Dan Fouts, 5,604
11. Joe Montana, 5,391
12. Dave Krieg, 5,311
13. Donovan McNabb, 5,218
14. Boomer Esiason, 5,205
15. Johnny Unitas, 5,186
16. Jim Hart, 5,076
17. Steve DeBerg, 5,024
18. Jim Everett, 4,923
19. Drew Brees, 4,822
20. Jim Kelly, 4,779
21. Troy Aikman, 4,715
22. Tom Brady, 4,710
23. John Hadl, 4,687
24. Phil Simms, 4,647
25. Mark Brunell, 4,637
26. Steve McNair, 4,544
27. Joe Ferguson, 4,519
28. Roman Gabriel, 4,498
29. John Brodie, 4,491
30. Ken Anderson, 4,475
31. Jon Kitna, 4,432
32. Y.A. Tittle, 4,395
33. Norm Snead, 4,353
34. Jake Plummer, 4,350
35. Brad Johnson, 4,326
36. Randall Cunningham, 4,289
37. Matt Hasselbeck, 4,279
38. Sonny Jurgensen, 4,262
39. Rich Gannon, 4,206
40. Steve Young, 4,149
41. Ron Jaworski, 4,117
42. Kurt Warner, 4,070
43. George Blanda, 4,007
44. Chris Chandler, 4,005
45. Jeff George, 3,967
46. Jim Harbaugh, 3,918
47. Terry Bradshaw, 3,901
48. Ken Stabler, 3,793
49. Craig Morton, 3,786
50. Joe Namath, 3,762
51. Len Dawson, 3,741
52. Trent Green, 3,740
53. Jim Plunkett, 3,701
54. Bobby Layne, 3,700
55. Jeff Garcia, 3,676
56. Tommy Kramer, 3,651
57. Archie Manning, 3,642
T58. Joe Theismann, 3,602
T58. Ken O’Brien, 3,602
60. Steve Grogan, 3,593
61. Steve Bartkowski, 3,456
62. Brian Sipe, 3,439
63. Bob Griese, 3,429
64. Charley Johnson, 3,392
65. Bernie Kosar, 3,365
66. Eli Manning, 3,332
67. Babe Parilli, 3,330
68. Steve Beuerlein, 3,328
69. Jeff Blake, 3,241
70. Neil O’Donnell, 3,229
71. Carson Palmer, 3,217
72. Daunte Culpepper, 3,199
73. Trent Dilfer, 3,172
74. Marc Bulger, 3,171
75. Neil Lomax, 3,153
T76. Jim Zorn, 3,149
T76. Bart Starr, 3,149

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