Super Bowl XLVII: Which Harbaugh Is Overrated?

Scott ReighardAnalyst IJanuary 25, 2013

I love you brother, but you are overrated.
I love you brother, but you are overrated.Rob Carr/Getty Images

I am being held hostage against my will for this year's Super Bowl matchup. Admittedly, I was not rooting for either the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens to make it this far, but as Brett Favre loves to say, "It is what it is."

Therefore, I embrace the biggest game of my favorite sport and soldier on. I do not have a dog in this race, so this article is as unbiased as I can make it. How's that for political talk?  

Sibling rivalry—always an interesting aspect to sports—has reached this year's Super Bowl by way of Jim and John Harbaugh.

I am sure to anger one contingent of fans, and I am sure the comments will fly, but why write some humdrum article and fawn all over these coaches when I can point to why one brother is overrated?

Obviously, John Harbaugh has a longer NFL track record than kid brother Jim, but that doesn't necessarily point to him being the more overrated coach.

Let's look at records, drafts and moves in order to determine the standout choice of most overrated Harbaugh.

John Harbaugh

Coaching career: College coach from 1984-1997. In 1998, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles, where he remained until 2007. In 2008, the Ravens tapped John Harbaugh to succeed Brian Billick, whose mouth basically ran him out of town.

Regular-season record: 54-26 with a .675 winning percentage.

Playoff record: 8-4 with three AFC Conference Championship games and now a trip to the Super Bowl. He has been to the playoffs every year as a head coach in one of the toughest divisions in football.

Draft report card: John Harbaugh and the Ravens have shown great aptitude for drafting some unknown or lesser-known players and turning them into potentially great players.

He drafted Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger.

Yes, he did acquire Ray "I'll never quit on you" Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed, but he also landed Anquan Boldin and Matt Birk as free agents.

Most notable move: Firing Cam Cameron. Harbaugh hired Cameron when he got the job, and firing Cameron was either going to be brilliant or disastrous. It turned out to be a deft move.

Jim Harbaugh

When Jim Harbaugh was hired by the 49ers, there were many skeptics. Oh no, another college coach trying to make the transition to the NFL? Will he go the way of Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier?

Much can be made about Jim's playing career. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1987, and six teams later he ended his career in Carolina in 2001. Ironically, he spent one year, 1998, in Baltimore.

On one hand, as the 26th selection in the first round of the 1987 draft, Jim had a so-so career. On the other hand, anyone who can play 14 years in the NFL is not just a so-so guy. I mean, look at Brad Johnson, and he was a ninth-round pick.

Coaching career: Jim basically started his head coaching in 2004 with the University of San Diego. In 2007, he was hired by Stanford; by 2010 he was the talk of the town despite not winning a national championship. Stanford was ranked No. 4 at the end of 2010 after a decisive Orange Bowl victory over an overrated Virginia Tech team.

Since Jim took over the 49ers, he has been able to produce back-to-back playoff runs. In his first year, the 49ers went 13-3 and hosted the NFC Championship Game only to lose to the eventual Super Bowl-winning New York Giants.

In 2012, the 49ers went 11-4-1, claiming the NFC West crown for the second year in a row and winning an impressive game at Atlanta for a trip to the Super Bowl.

So, why do I rate Jim Harbaugh as being overrated?

There is no doubt that Jim Harbaugh has done a very good job in San Francisco, but let's look at the reality of why he has been so successful.

Jim acquired a really good football team. If Mike Singletary had been any kind of coach, the 49ers would still have him. Or if the 49ers had been more patient, Mike Nolan was a good coach as well.

I will credit Jim for having the vision to draft Colin Kaepernick. Just as brother John drafted Flacco, there was some scrutiny behind those picks, but so far, so good.

And yes, Jim drafted LaMichael James and Aldon Smith, but a few other notables have not really contributed yet.

Jim acquired Vernon Davis, Alex Smith—who was basically used by the coach—Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, the entire starting offensive line and nearly the entire defense. Let's wait five or so years to see if his drafts, free-agent signings and wins qualify him as a great coach.  

He did acquire Randy "Gun for Hire" Moss, who clearly chose this team like a Kardashian chooses an NBA player. A few other free agents are also making minor contributions, but let's not forget about Brandon Jacobs.

I know, I'm splitting hairs, but my point is made.

Jim deserves some benefit of the doubt because he is only in his second year. The 49ers are in the Super Bowl, which is a great accomplishment, but this team is layered with talented players Jim had no hand in drafting.

Plus, take a look at the NFC West. It is the weakest division in football.

Here is the NFC West over the last two years:

  • St. Louis Rams: 9-22-1
  • Arizona Cardinals: 13-21
  • Seattle Seahawks: 18-14

Seattle is the only team giving San Francisco a run for its money.

Prior to Jim's arrival, it's not like the 49ers were in disarray. Before he arrived, the organization was 21-27—not great, but take away the 6-10 year and the years are roughly 8-8, which can sometimes get a team into the playoffs.

Yes, he had to build a system that the players could buy into, and there is no doubt that he is a motivator.

Motivation could be a second career should NFL coaching not work out in the long run for him.

At this time, too much credit is being given to Jim, which is why I say he is overrated.

If he beats his brother, then I will have to re-evaluate my position. But Jim reminds me of John Rauch, who took a talented Oakland Raiders team to Super Bowl II only to lose to the Green Bay Packers. Rauch's remaining career was unspectacular.

Or perhaps he may end up like Jon Gruden, who inherited a very talented Tampa Bay Buccaneers team from Tony Dungy and then put several lackluster seasons together after winning the Super Bowl.

Only time will tell how this all turns out. I do not agree with the media, which has been so quick to label Jim Harbaugh as a great coach. He doesn't deserve such a label, especially considering his youth.

OK, 49ers fans, click and rip. I joyfully await your emotional rants.


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