NEW ORLEANS – John and Jim Harbaugh couldn’t have been dressed any differently during their final pre-Super Bowl appearance Friday, a unique joint news conference. John was decked out in a suit, while Jim wore his usual attire of a 49ers hat and black sweater with a Niners logo on it.
But when it comes down to where the focus should be heading into the pinnacle of the NFL, the coaches couldn’t be more in tune with one another.
“The way our players have played, that is why we’re here, not because of any coaching decisions or any way that we were when we were kids,” Jim said. “Really a credit to those men, and looking forward to the game.”
“I concur,” John said.
The coaching brothers will square off Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII when Jim leads the 49ers against John and the Baltimore Ravens. They pair has been the focal point of the majority of Super Bowl week buzz, but have continually tried to downplay their role and how their relationship will impact Sunday’s game.
“It will be the Ravens sideline; it will be the 49ers sideline,” John said. “That will be the band of brothers in this competition.”
One other intriguing aspect to the Harbowl phenomenon that has been overlooked for the most part is Jim’s son, Jay, works on the Ravens’ staff. Jay assists with video and weight room duties for Baltimore. He was brought in by John after working as an undergraduate assistant for Oregon State and also worked as a scouting intern for the 49ers in 2011. So has he been able to dig up any dirt on the Niners when talking to dad this week?
“This week I haven’t been talking to him or calling him or anything,” Jim said. “I’ve sent him a few texts just letting him know how I feel about him and I don’t want to give reason for people to think I’m talking to him. I’m really proud of what he’s doing, I’ve heard he’s done a great job and that means the world.”
John joked having Jay in his corner Sunday might even give the Ravens a leg up.
“I think that may well tip the scale, that might be our edge,” he said.
For his part, Jay said he has no problem deciding where his allegiances lie.
“I couldn't fathom even considering not being all in with the team that I'm a part of,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “Any true competitor feels the exact same way.”
With so much Harbaugh hoopla, it only seemed inevitable that the brothers would be asked about possibly working together at some point down the road on a “dream team” type staff. Both indicated they would definitely be up for it and the timing hasn’t just worked out to this point.
But for now, they are probably the two coaches with the most job security in the NFL. And while only one will be able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy come Sunday, both are well aware that either agony or ecstasy awaits.
“For the side that comes up short, it’s going to be a bitter disappointment,” John said. “That’s how football works. That’s how life is, and we understand that.”