Boisterous. Off-putting. Unbecoming. Psychotic. All adjectives many have used to describe Jim Harbaugh‘s sideline demeanor, especially when he’s donkey-kong pounding the field on national television. Or dropping his stomach flab while approaching the postgame handshake.
But it’s hard to argue with his results and future promise his team has shown in just two seasons as the San Francisco 49ers head coach, especially when considering San Francisco’s dark-ages stretch heading into his tenure that included eight consecutive seasons without a winning record. Harbaugh shows up; the Niners hit the NFC championship and then Super Bowl.
Or take it from his brother John Harbaugh, speaking on live television after he had just topped his younger brother to win the title: “There’s no better coach in the National Football League, as far as I’m concerned, than Jim Harbaugh.”
The odd thing is that it didn’t just seem like the act of a courteous winner; I totally think John believes it. This off-season might be the time for the football world to start thinking about whether Harbaugh has ascended to the throne and I’m sure many already have begun doing so — even if we’re working from a small sample size that produces Jim Harbaugh’s 75 percent win percentage as an NFL head coach, or best of anyone since the 1960s not named John Madden.
The Harbaugh-for-best-coach argument begins in these condensed terms: he adapted to the pro game instantly, went against the grain to find success by emphasizing a physical and diverse run game, squeezed a 19-5-1 record out of Alex Smith despite him being considered a bust the previous five years, and made a bold call mid-season to bench Smith for a Colin Kaepernick — who was up until that point considered a project quarterback — before riding him to an NFC title.
I’m sure New England Patriots fans might disagree, but debate away and with civility!