SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In an plea that surely will fall on deaf ears, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh made an appeal Monday that the media focus on the players in Super Bowl XLVII and not on him and his brother John, who will be coaching from opposing sidelines.
Harbaugh made it pretty plain that he might not cooperate much on the brothers-do-battle angle, though he admitted it’ll likely be the primary story when the 49ers and Baltimore Ravens arrive in New Orleans next week.
“Yes, that’s definitely a possibility,” he said at his weekly news conference. “But I can take a pass personally from that.”
Does that mean he won’t answer questions about his brother when the Super Bowl media frenzy begins?
“As few as possible, as few as possible,” he said. “Make it about the game and the players playing in the game.”
Across the country, John Harbaugh was considerably more expansive talking about his younger brother. But he agreed that reporters will be treading over old ground playing up the brother act.
“I guess it’s pretty neat,” John Harbaugh said. “But is it really going to be written about? It’s not exactly like Churchill and Roosevelt or anything. Every story has been told. We’re not that interesting. There’s nothing more to learn.”
Jim Harbaugh said he hadn’t talked to John, even after the Ravens won the AFC Championship game against New England on Sunday, hours after the 49ers beat Atlanta for the NFC title.
“We haven’t spoken .. . a couple of texts,” he said. “I’d imagine it won’t be much more. Pretty busy getting ready.”
Jim Harbaugh called it both a blessing and a curse that the game already is being billed_as the Baltimore Sun called it in a banner headline Monday — ”Sibling Revelry.”
“A blessing because that is my brother’s team,” Harbaugh said. “Also, I played for the Ravens. Great respect for their organization. Worked with (general manager) Ozzie Newsome and (late owner) Art Modell. Know many of the Baltimore Ravens players and have great respect for them and their team. Happy for them. Happy for us that we’ve made it to this point.”
And the flip side?
“The curse part would be the talk of two brothers (coaching) in the Super Bowl and what that takes away from the players that are in the game,” he said. “Every moment you’re talking about myself or John, that’s less time the players are going to be talked about.
“I just feel like the saying that victory knows no orphans, or victory has a thousand fathers … I think it’s true,” he continued. “I just feel like the fighters are first, the ones that are playing the game. The players, they’re the ones that have the most to do with it, and they’re the ones we should be talking about.”
Harbaugh took only a few questions about his brother. He was asked about a comment he made last year, before the Ravens hosted the 49ers in a regular season game, that he was half the coach his brother was.
“He’s a great football coach, has a real grasp at all football phases_offensively, defensively and special teams,” Jim Harbaugh said of John. “At least in two of those three phases he coordinates them and is as good as anyone in the league. I’m probably half the coach in terms of experience he has, with the half amount of wins and playoff wins. But it’s not about us. I’m very proud of my brother and love him.”
John Harbaugh, meanwhile, honed in on Jim’s intense competitiveness.
“He will fight you for anything,” he said. “Whether it was a game of cards growing up, whatever, he was going to find a way to win no matter what. That’s what made him a great player, it’s what made him a good student in college, it’s what makes him the man he is.
“He’s also really talented,” John continued. “He’s the guy in hockey who took the puck down the middle of the rink and everybody bounced off him and he scored goals. He got every rebound and scored every point. The gym teacher in fourth grade said he was too competitive and needed to ease off a little bit. My dad said no, he doesn’t need to ease off. He needs to compete.”
Then there’s Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, parents of the two Super Bowl coaches. Perhaps setting the tone for the next two weeks, the 49ers coach was even less expansive talking about them.
“I think they’ll be there,” he said with a deadpan stare.