I’m partial to the Harbaugh brothers. For starters, I’m a James and have a brother John. Not uncommon, I realize. But the John and Jim of the NFL are the first example of two brothers who have served as head coaches in the NFL.
Because of this, the Thanksgiving match-up between the San Francisco 49ers (Jim’s squad) and the Baltimore Ravens (John’s squad) was incredibly unique within the long, illustrious history of the NFL.
I had a feeling big brother would slightly edge younger brother–not based on age or coaching ability, rather insight. It’s not like John hasn’t been checking out what brother Jim has been doing all season long, and vice versa. I would say that both guys, as busy as they are, also serve as the other’s biggest fan.
John Harbaugh’s game plan was executed to perfection. Control the run, blitz the heck out of Alex Smith, motivate your front four toward domination, knowing that they have that added layer of support in a tenacious blitz package and the next thing you know, the defense is constantly sitting in the quarterback’s lap. Constantly. 9 sacks on the night for Baltimore.
Guys like Alex Smith are good with linebackers and safeties occasionally coming off the edge of the pocket, but get penetration from the DT position, repeatedly, and guys like Alex Smith start to doubt. When guys like Alex Smith start to doubt, well…you get the 49ers of the past several seasons. Not that team that had one loss before dropping a tight one to Baltimore tonight.All those things that Jim Harbaugh does to get Alex Smith in a rhythm, John Harbaugh took away early.
The game offered some excellent football education to new fans of the game, and it was well coached on both sides of the ball. Too bad it was hijacked by the shield and put on the NFL Network. This much is certain, the next time the brothers square off with their 53 gridiron warriors, find the game and tune in.