OWINGS MILLS — Brothers John and Jim Harbaugh have downplayed Thursday’s game as much as they can.
But in reality, they can’t. It’s the firt time two brothers will coach against each other in the NFL’s existence. Think about that: Since 1921, which has seen plenty of tradition-rich NFL lineages, no family can claim that until the Harbaughs will after Thrusday.
Sure, both Harbaughs understand the significance of the milestone. But they don’t want it to become a distraction to their teams.
Regardless, some of the Ravens not only know what a mean would be for their Harbaugh, but they’re having a little fun with it, too.
“This goes back to when you were seven and six years old fighting over who controls the choo-choo train next,” defensive end Cory Reddingsaid. “It’s going to be a fight, man. It’s going to be a fight with the players, it’s going to be a fight with coach-to-coach, brother-to-brother. Of course, Harbaugh wants to beat the other Harbaugh. But at the end of the day, we’ve just got to go out there and play ball.”
John Harbaugh is in his fourth season with Baltimore, and he’s already experienced a great deal of success. Younger brother Jim is in his first year with San Francisco, and he’s done a great job turning a team in shambles into one of the league’s best. The 49ers enter this game with a 9-1 record, having already traveled to the east coast four times for four wins.
Bragging rights are on the line for the Harbaughs and the players are aware.
“It means a lot to him,” cornerback Chris Carr said. “Especially the second half of the season when everything’s so close, and if you’re gunning for the No. 1 seed and you going for the playoffs, there’s no better team to go against than your brother. He’s highly competitive. Even though he may not talk about it, he wants to get this win more. We want to get a win for him. But for us, we are treating this like another game.”
Both Harbaughs are doing what they can to treat this week like it’s any other week. But it’s not. It’s history, which also happens to be on a short week. The NFL didn’t do the 49ers any favors by forcing them to fly three time zones into Baltimore, despite the fact they have those four wins across the country already.
Both Harbaughs possess a fiery trait and should look just as intense as they do on a normal week, perhaps more. The world caught a glimpse of Jim’s emotion after San Francisco’s Week 6’s win over Detroit, when he gave Lions coach Jim Schwartz a hard handshake that erupted into an altercation.
While the two Harbaughs might be at each other’s throats during the game, it’s doubtful there will be a bitter clash to follow.
“Regardless of the result, I can’t wait to see the handshake,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “I am kind of looking forward to it. It’s going to be awesome.”
By Jason Butt