Jim Harbaugh never let up, but instead coached the San Francisco 49ers to win in 2012. No move demonstrated that quite like his decision to replace game-manager Alex Smith with backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick midseason, despite the team's fast start.
Unfortunately, Harbaugh's decision failed to lead to a championship. There's no guarantee that the 49ers are even playing for the Super Bowl if Smith was under center over the final stretch of the season, but that won't stop fans and pundits from speculating.
Harbaugh received much of the credit for leading the Niners back to the big game, so he receives a solid portion of the blame for their gut-wrenching 34-31 loss.
The 49-year-old Harbaugh has been a star in the Bay Area since he took over in 2011. He led the team to an impressive 13-3 record in his first season, reaching the NFC Championship Game before falling at home to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in overtime.
Harbaugh's second go-around in San Francisco proved to be a little bumpier, but his team never lost sight of the ultimate prize, hanging on to win the NFC West division and while heading into the playoffs with a first-round bye for the second straight winter.
Since his arrival, the 49ers have reflected Harbaugh's personality, playing tough, clean football en route to two deep playoff runs.
Jim Harbaugh is bringing a smile to the face of Bo Schem-in football Heaven - BO loved ppl with passion & Jim has "IT" Can't be defined— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) January 21, 2013
How many Super Bowls will Jim Harbaugh retire with?
Although Jim Harbaugh came up just short for the second straight year, his ability to lead cannot be questioned, and NFL fans must not forget that it was only his second year.
Harbaugh is only going to get smarter, better and grow as an NFL head coach. He clearly has what it takes to motivate a group of men and lead them to the promised land.
There's no shame in losing to your older brother, and there's certainly none in losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl. Jim Harbaugh and the Niners will be back in 2013. Although it feels like the sky is falling right now, San Francisco's head coach can proudly look back this offseason knowing his team took an extra step this season.
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