The San Francisco 49ers have entered a new era of quality in the Jim Harbaugh era. After suffering through subpar and disastrous teams from 2003 through 2010, the 49ers have reached three straight NFC Championship Games and are consistent Super Bowl threats.
The fact that Harbaugh took a team that was mired in mediocrity and turned it into a winner without a significant influx of talent is very impressive. He more than earned his 2011 NFL Coach of the Year award and has positioned the 49ers well for future success.
The question we’re asking today is where Harbaugh ranks among the list of 49ers coaches. San Francisco has had 18 different men prowling the sidelines dating back to the old All-American Football Conference days in the 1940s, and while some have had fantastic careers, others have seen their fortunes tank.
We’re taking into account success in the standings or sure, but this isn’t just a list of coaches ranked according to their win-loss record. We’re also gauging their abilities to turn teams around, to maintain from year to year a level of consistently winning football and to succeed in an area where their unsuccessful predecessors had obviously failed: to get the most out of their players.
We’re also looking at their intangible leadership characteristics. Are they the kind of coach that had players dying to come to San Francisco, or did they oversee a mass exodus of talent?
Of course, at the end of the day, everything boils down to championships, so a lack of rings won’t get you very far.
Let’s start at the bottom with number 18, with recent suffering.