Behind the rookie NFL coach, the 49ers finished the 2011 season with an NFL second-best 13-3 record and are sending eight players to the Pro Bowl. This time last year, the 49ers finished 6-10 with two Pro Bowlers.
They will enjoy a first-round bye this weekend and start a playoff run for the first time since 2002.
Harbaugh’s willingness to be unconventional is a major reason for the success of the 49ers. In addition to managing and believing in a team that has been pitiful for years, Harbaugh uses the element of surprise to trump opponents.
Here are five of Harbaugh’s decisions that other coaches wouldn’t have touched with a 10-foot pole.