Jim Harbaugh vs. Jim Schwartz: Which NFL Head Coach Will Have a Better Career?

Kraig LundbergAnalyst IIIOctober 16, 2011

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 16: Jim Harbaugh head coach of the San Francisco 49ers argues with Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions during the NFL game at Ford Field on October 16, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

When the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions faced off today, it was a battle of teams led by two of the hottest young coaches in the NFL: Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz.

After all, who would have thought the 49ers and Lions would be a combined 9-1 going into their week six matchup?

Although San Francisco prevailed 25-19 to hand Detroit its first loss of the season, the two teams now stand tied at 5-1, which is a fairly accurate depiction of how close Harbaugh and Schwartz are in terms of success.

So, who is the better coach?

Jim Harbaugh is in his first year with the 49ers. He has done an impressive job thus far with a team that finished 6-10 last season and returned most of the same players.

Quarterback Alex Smith seems to be taking to Harbaugh's coaching very well, and he has become the difference maker that many people thought he would never become after underachieving for so long. He has thrown seven touchdowns to one interception and has a QB rating of over 100.

The 49ers have developed a very strong offensive line for running backs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, and Smith has a good rapport with tight end Vernon Davis and receiver Michael Crabtree.

Their bend-but-don't-break defense gave the Lions fits in Detroit.

Jim Schwartz has been with the Lions in times bad, and now in times good, due in large part to himself. Schwartz has done a great job with a very young Lions team that should only get better with time.

Detroit has also had a lot of recent success in the NFL Draft and have begun building a team that, led by Ndamukong Suh, Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, could be one of the most dominant teams in the NFL before long.

The Lions' biggest flaw is a mediocre offensive line, so if Schwartz can find a way to patch that up, Detroit would be set for a long time.

Because of Detroit's youth and their big time success in NFL drafts in recent years, I have to give the edge to Schwartz at this point.

Still, Harbaugh and Schwartz should both have great careers, and both the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions will be taking their turns at the top of the NFL.