Niners’ fans around the globe hope that with Harbaugh, success will find its way back to the Bay Area.
The former Stanford Cardinals head coach will have a difficult task to do those expectations justice.
The 49ers have not posted a winning record since 2002, but September 11, 2011, could become the beginning of a new era in 49ers’ history—the Jim Harbaugh era.
The following four reasons show why the Harbaugh era will have immediate success in its first year.
Jim Harbaugh and his best student Cardinal QB Andrew Luck
Before taking the job as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Harbaugh was the head coach of the Stanford Cardinal football program for four seasons.
When Harbaugh took over the program in December 2006, Stanford University had just finished dead last in the Pac-10 conference, boosting an overall record of 1-11.
In only four short seasons, Harbaugh turned the program completely around. The Cardinal finished the 2010 season with a 12-1 record, and an impressive 40-12 Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech.
He also won the 2010 Woody Hayes Coach of the Year Award. His ability of building a winning team should give every Niners’ fan a glimpse of hope for the upcoming season.
Can you say playoffs?
The San Francisco 49ers had their biggest success with head coach Bill Walsh and QB Joe Montana in the 1980s.
Montana was the perfect quarterback for Walsh’s West Coast offense.
After years of experimenting and implementing all different kinds of offensive schemes, Harbaugh is going back to the system that turned the 49ers into a dynasty.
"We will install the West Coast offense in San Francisco, the birthplace of the West Coast offense." Harbaugh said in January. "And I'm excited about that."
Can you say unstoppable?
The coaching paths of Hall of Famer Bill Walsh and Jim Harbaugh are quite similar. Both coached the Stanford Cardinal before joining the Niners, and both are talking over a mediocre San Francisco team.
Walsh backed Harbaugh at Stanford in 2007, and even talked to the team at Harbaugh’s first spring practice.
Not worth a lot, but if the late Bill Walsh approved of Harbaugh at Stanford, then he has to be the chosen one because Walsh knows best.
Besides all those comparisons between Walsh and Harbaugh, another reason why hiring Harbaugh could immediately pay off is the fact that the 49ers play in the NFL’s weakest division.
Arizona, Seattle, and St. Louis are all in midst of rebuilding and finding their new identities. The NFC West is up for grabs, and the Niners have to take advantage of it.
Can you say perfect timing?
The offense of a football team depends heavily on the performance of a single person—the quarterback—and that has been the weak point of the San Francisco 49ers in recent years.
Does Alex Smith have talent? Yes, no question about it. Does he show it? No! The seven-year veteran and former No.1 overall draft pick has been unable to perform consistently on the highest level.
Jim Harbaugh might be the perfect man to turn Alex Smith into a Pro Bowler.
Harbaugh, who played 14 years as a NFL quarterback, made the assertion that coaching has a huge impact on a quarterback’s performance. While playing for former Indianapolis Colts coach Lindy Infante, Harbaugh exceeded all expectations and was selected to the 1995 Pro Bowl.
"I went to the Pro Bowl playing for Lindy and up until that point, I wasn't thought of as a good quarterback at all," Harbaugh told ESPN. "But coaching made a difference."
If somebody can turn Alex Smith into a Pro Bowl type of quarterback then it will be Jim Harbaugh.
Can you say Hawaii?