Super Bowl XLVII will forever go down in history as the Harbowl, the Harbaugh Bowl, the Superbaugh and any other Harbaugh pun there is in honor of the two head coaching brothers, John and Jim Harbaugh, who are facing off on opposite sides.
The Harbaughs are not one-hit wonders in any way. They are both top coaches and are primed for long-term success. The Ravens and 49ers are young and talented, and each coach is able to get the full potential out of his team.
Looking at the Ravens first, John Harbaugh became head coach of the team in 2008, and his time there has been incredible. The team has had eight postseason wins and a regular season record of 54-26 (good for a .675 winning percentage). After 25 years of coaching experience in college and the NFL, his immediate success has been a revelation for the front office and fans alike.
He has cultivated quarterback Joe Flacco, who not coincidentally was drafted also in 2008, into a leader and a cannon-armed player who can win games. Having yet to eclipse 4,000 passing yards in a season, Flacco is by no means one of the top quarterbacks in the league. At the same time, having yet to eclipse 12 interceptions in a season, Flacco is a great quarterback, and Harbaugh has deftly guided him to where he is now.
Harbaugh also has had help this year from another great coach, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. Caldwell was head coach of the Indianapolis Colts for three years, including almost going undefeated in his first season, before joining the Ravens in 2012. Caldwell has helped maintain the balanced offensive philosophy that Harbaugh has brought, while instilling the no-huddle offense at times as well.
The creativity of both Harbaugh and Caldwell should make the game's offensive matchups quite interesting.
On the other side of the field, Jim Harbaugh joined the 49ers as head coach in January 2011, four days after winning the Orange Bowl with Stanford University.
Coming off a 6-10 season, Harbaugh was expected to come in and help rebuild the team for the future. Instead, he brought in a number of new faces, changed the entire scheme and led the team to a 13-3 record, while also winning the NFL Coach of the Year award. The 49ers lost to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game last postseason.
Since arriving in San Francisco, Harbaugh has made gutsy decisions that always seem to pay off. Most notably, he chose to sit quarterback Alex Smith after he suffered a concussion and stuck with his backup, Colin Kaepernick, as the starter after the second-year quarterback had an incredible first game. Smith was a proven winner and game manager, but Kaepernick had more raw potential, and the 49ers have greatly benefited as a result.
Greg Roman, the offensive coordinator, has contributed immensely to the new style of offense, with the 49ers often dominating possession. On defense, coordinator Vic Fangio has years of coaching experience and worked with Harbaugh at Stanford, where he was one of the top defensive coordinators in the nation.
In the end, the 49ers have the edge.
Both coordinators were brought in along with Jim Harbaugh in 2011, and they have completely changed the culture of the 49ers. While brother John has certainly set up the Ravens for long-term success, Jim has done such a drastic turnaround in such a short time that his staff has the slight edge heading into Super Bowl XLVII.
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