If Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers win the franchise’s record-tying sixth Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens–and Jim’s brother John Harbaugh–the comparisons between Jim Harbaugh and Bill Walsh will begin in earnest.
Walsh, the late San Francisco 49ers head coach who is responsible for popularizing the West Coast Offense and revolutionizing football, asked Jim Harbaugh to coach at Stanford in 2006.
“I was intending to leave that message on my phone for the rest of my life, but I lost that phone or dropped it in the toilet or something,” Harbaugh said last week during Super Bowl media week. “I can’t remember which it was, I lost it or dropped it in the can, but I don’t have that message anymore. Truly one of the most memorable things was getting that message.”
Walsh passed away in 2007, and he spent his last years advising Stanford’s athletic department. Walsh, like Harbaugh, had also once coached Stanford football before he became a legend in San Francisco.
Harbaugh promptly made Stanford football into a national power, which was deemed nearly impossible because of the school’s rigid academic standards. And he has also revived the once-proud 49ers franchise.
If San Francisco wins, the franchise will remain undefeated in Super Bowls (San Francisco has won five, outscoring their opponents by 99 points in those Super Bowls) and tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins (6) in the NFL.
Harbaugh, like Walsh, is an innovator. The pistol offense Harbaugh has tailored to fit quarterback Colin Kaepernick is as revolutionary as Walsh’s West Coast Offense. And if San Francisco wins its first Super Bowl in nearly 20 years, Harbaugh and Kaepernick may emerge as the next great head coach and quarterback in the team’s storied history, following along the lines of Walsh, Joe Montana, and Steve Young.