Not that he needed much more evidence, but Jim Harbaugh's decision to start Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith pushed his name into a pretty heady conversation. One that includes Don Shula (1967-68), Joe Gibbs (1982-83) and Allie Sherman (1961-62) as the only head coaches to win consecutive AP NFL Coach of the Year awards.
Harbaugh has proven that he has nerves of steel and an iron will to match. He does what he feels is best for the team and doesn't apologize for it.
For instance, he went after Peyton Manning. Then, when Manning decided to take things in a different direction, he insisted that Alex Smith was his quarterback. He even went so far as to deny the courtship.
But there's no denying that at least checking out what Manning had was in the best interest of his team. And, apparently, he wasn't truly sorry about it.
Now that his team isn't taking opponents by surprise, he's kept the the San Francisco 49ers rolling. At 8-2-1, his team is in the driver's seat for a first-round bye despite the bull's eye squarely attached to their backs.
However, this last decision shows that the boss is on a different level from his peers. How many of the other 31 NFL coaches would be wiling to sit a quarterback who had won 19 of 24 games?
Or lunacy if it doesn't work.
But it did. Kaepernick responded to being named the starter by accumulating 258 total yards and two scores.
Oh, and the win.
That's all it takes to make this decision a stroke of genius. While there is time for him to do something stupid, or for Bruce Arians to overtake him, Harbaugh is firmly in the lead to join the elite consecutive-coach-of-the-year club.
By the way, he's set to accomplish the feat his first two years. Scary.
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