Every NFL team has been in the same situation during the lockout when it comes to players not being in contact with their coaching staff. That said, there seems to be an inherent advantage for those teams that have veteran head coaches who aren’t worried about installing new systems.
Enter an interesting contrast for a pair of brothers now coaching in the league. Many have said that the San Francisco 49ers are amongst the teams in the worst position coming out of the lockout, given the entire overhaul in coaching staff with the addition of what will likely be a battle for the starting quarterback job. New head coach Jim Harbaugh tries to brush that off, going with the “We’re all in the same position” line.
His brother, John, however, doesn’t seem so sure. The veteran coach of the Baltimore Ravens says John is probably in a little bit tougher position, but then goes on to explain that a team doesn’t just simply install an entire system and personality in one offseason anyways.
I guess we’ll find out where they stand in Week 11, assuming all the optimism about ending the lockout comes to fruition.
Jim and John Harbaugh joined ESPN Radio Chicago with Waddle and Silvy to discuss the Harbaugh family coaching tree, John giving advice to his brother heading into his first year as an NFL head coach, the draft-day confusion during what was supposed to be a trade between Baltimore and Chicago, what it will be like for the brothers to square off as coaches, if there is an advantage or disadvantage to new coaches given the lockout and whether Alex Smith will top the depth chart in San Francisco.
John, if we were ranking the Harbaugh family coaching tree, how would those rankings shake out?:
“Well, you know as usual we will leave it up to you guys to make the prognostications, the rankings and all the other BS that has absolutely nothing to do with winning football games. That’s what you do best. You can figure that out.”
John, what did you take away from your father in terms of coaching style and philosophy?:
“Everything. Jim and I, we have said it many times, he’s the best coach that we know, who has ever been around. I think we pretty much think alike because it’s in our blood, that’s what we were born with and were brought up with anyway. And we kind of got the same philosophy and it comes from years of sitting around and listening to him and basically being raised that way. He’s the driving force, he’s the man. He is definitely number one. If we had to do a ranking, he would definitely be number one. Jim and I can battle it out for number two.”
John, have you given Jim a lot of advice about making the transition from college to the NFL?:
“Well I have. I have given him a lot of thoughts but I think he has given me a lot of thoughts, too. It’s more conversational, going through different things like practice schedule, discipline, organizing the spacing on the fields or anything, offensive stuff. It’s all stuff you try to talk through together and I say we have been doing that really even when he was playing, but you know not as much stuff football wise probably as we had done since we are playing against each other. But we still talk a lot.”
John, during the draft, there was some confusion during an apparent trade between the Ravens and the Bears. Are you still disappointed in how that went down?:
“I don’t think any of us were real angry I think it was just disappointing. And I’ve said it before and I guess they can get mad at me if they want but I am not buying the mistake thing. It wasn’t a mistake. They knew what they were doing. They got their guy on the phone; they agreed to a pick, they got their guy on the phone, they recognized he wasn’t getting calls from the team behind them and then they basically stalled for over a minute, telling us they had called the trade in. That was just not honest. They had called the trade in, said it was a mistake. Those guys have been doing it for a long time, c’mon. You communicate back and forth and someone’s responsible for calling the trade in and there is no way to not get that done. … They basically stole two spots from us and that’s not okay. That’s not ethical, it’s not right and I personally agree with our owner, Steve Bisciotti, that they should’ve been held accountable for it. But it is what it is and they didn’t do anything illegal so, we were just disappointed with them.”
Jim, what’s it going to be like squaring off with your brother in Week 11, assuming the lockout ends?:
“There’s been some talk. I think it will be confrontational, competitive and it’s going to be a huge challenge because the Ravens are a heck of a team. But we don’t play them until the eleventh week so we’ve got quite a few fights before we get to them but we will cross that bridge when we get there.”
Jim, do you think you’re at a disadvantage due to the lockout, not having been able to spend time with your team and implementing your systems?:
“We are all in the same position. Its uncharted waters for everybody and hopefully we can think our way through it and find the advantage and for us it’s getting close to go time. They say that, if this was a football game they would be on the 1 or 2 yard line and I hope they have a good goal line offense and we can get this deal done.”
John, being a veteran coach with a veteran team, do you have an advantage over teams and coaches in a situation like your brother?:
“I don’t know. As Jim said, it’s kind of uncharted waters and I guess we will let the low part drag, too. I like that. I am not sure what that means but it’s very cool. I am worried about, like Jim is worried about and like every coach in the league worries about, their own team and their own situation and what they have to do. Everybody is going to have a certain number of practices and there’s got to be somewhat of an advantage. I think it is a little bit tougher on Jim and the guys that are putting in new systems and haven’t had their guys but I also know that those guys are great coaches and things aren’t that different. Guys know how to block, guys know how to run certain plays it’s just going to be them putting their imprint and personality on everything they are doing and that takes more than an offseason anyway, that takes years to do.”
Jim, is Alex Smith your quarterback heading into the year?:
“We don’t know who our best players are yet, to be honest with you, Tom (Waddle). That’s what practices will be for and who’s practicing and playing those preseason games the best, those guys will get the starting positions. Looking forward to that competition and I think we will have really good guys in here. Alex, hopefully, and Colin Kaepernick, and we will see who are other quarterbacks are and our free agents and get going. Throw the balls out there and let them compete for it with no politics, no games and no ‘I like this guy better than that guy.’ We will go out there and find out who the best guy is.”