National Football League

                === Harbaugh's restored the lore by the Bay ===
 By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
 (Sports Network) - Jim Harbaugh was the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts
 the last time the San Francisco 49ers reached the Super Bowl.
 Known as "Captain Comeback" in his playing days for the ability to pluck a
 team from the grips of defeat, Harbaugh has been up to his old tricks as head
 coach of the 49ers.
 Harbaugh, in his second year with the storied and five-time Super Bowl
 champion 49ers, has the Bay area abuzz with confidence that another title is
 headed back to northern California. A win Sunday over the Baltimore Ravens in
 Super Bowl XLVII would be San Francisco's sixth, which would match the
 Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in league history.
 The 49ers are undefeated in their previous five Super Bowl appearances, the
 last of which occurred in 1994, when Steve Young stepped out of the shadows of
 the great Joe Montana in a rout of the San Diego Chargers.
 George Seifert was the coach of the Niners in their last Super Bowl run and
 worked briefly with Harbaugh later in his career. It was then Harbaugh got to
 know current offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who was an assistant offensive
 line coach. Harbaugh and Roman hit it off immediately, then worked together at
 Stanford in 2009-10, and now have a chance to come out on top Sunday.
 Harbaugh was asked about that experience when the team arrived in New Orleans.
 "It was a real pleasure to work with George Seifert, to get a chance to know
 him. I didn't get on the field that year," Harbaugh reflected. "One of the
 great things was being able to meet Greg Roman, who was an assistant offensive
 line coach at the time. I was just so impressed with his knowledge of football
 and the kind of guy he was. We struck up a very good friendship within the
 first couple weeks I was there. I made friends right off the bat. Later,
 getting a chance to work with him was a real great thing for us."
 Perhaps through osmosis Harbaugh was able to become a successful coach, having
 dominated the college ranks with the Cardinal and earning a shot at the
 professional level. Harbaugh has shown he knows how to win as evidenced by
 back-to-back appearances in the NFC Championship game and now a trip to the
 Big Easy for football's ultimate prize.
 The Super Bowl is uncharted waters for Harbaugh and his players, but he
 isn't worried that the novelty of the NFL's biggest stage will play a role in
 how his team performs. A quote by 49ers safety Dashon Goldson a few weeks ago
 resonated with Harbaugh, "We get fresher under pressure."
 "That bodes well for us," Harbaugh said of Goldson's message.
 Fans of the 49ers are ecstatic to have their team back in the forefront of NFL
 lore. But sometimes teams get too tight or focus too much on the opposition it
 throws players, coaches and the staff for a loop (i.e. Dick Vermeil in 1980).
 Not this team, according to Harbaugh when questioned if he tried to keep a
 normal routine before arriving in the French Quarter.
 "Our team has been really focused on winning, focused on the unity of the
 team. I think it's really genuine. I think it's the best focus on unity and
 winning that I've ever seen or been a part of," Harbaugh noted. "This week,
 we tried to make it like a normal week, being here on Sunday, in the city
 starting Monday like it's a week leading up to a Sunday game is our plan."
 Since a tie with the NFC West-rival St. Louis Rams back on Nov. 11, the 49ers
 have ripped off wins in seven of their last nine games, including a 28-24
 triumph over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC title game. San Francisco stared
 down a 17-0 hole and stuck with the gameplan, pounding running back Frank Gore
 up the middle and allowing both quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the defense
 to play their game. Can you guess what the 49ers will do Sunday? You got it,
 the same troika will be unleashed.
 Kaepernick said that pressure comes from lack of preparation and that Super
 Bowl Sunday will not have that type of affect on him or his teammates. He said
 it's just a matter of "going out there and performing physically."
 Perhaps the biggest story of Harbaugh's second season was the demotion of
 starting quarterback Alex Smith in favor of the stronger and more elusive
 Kaepernick. Similar to what New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick
 experienced years ago with Drew Bledsoe going down and Tom Brady becoming a
 Hall of Fame quarterback, Harbaugh has no regrets on his QB switch.
 "I thought it was a unique situation. Viewed it that way when it happened,"
 Harbaugh said. "Two quarterbacks that were playing extremely well. Made the
 decision that we thought was best for our team. We did what we thought would
 give us the best chance to win games."
 That statement draws comparison to Jim Koch, the co-founder and chairman of
 the Boston Beer Company, who said he would rather put people in bad beer than
 bad beer into people. Smith may have kept smiles on the faces of Niners fans,
 but Kaepernick has taken the opportunity to re-ignite a city to new heights.
 Several coaches wax poetic and say players won't lose their job to injury.
 That's rubbish when winning is on the line. Smith, who led the 49ers to the
 NFC title game a year ago and is known for safely managing a game, sustained a
 concussion and has been holding a clipboard ever since. Harbaugh said that
 Kaepernick's play "has been outstanding" since taking the reigns from Smith,
 but kept the focus on the team and what it has accomplished playing as a unit.
 Some may consider the quarterback switch by Harbaugh to be gutsy, which is a
 term that coalesced his lengthy playing career. San Francisco fans can relate
 to the athleticism of Kaepernick and the determination of Harbaugh after
 watching Young evolve into a Hall of Famer for his running and passing skills,
 and bringing a fifth Super Bowl title back to the Bay area. Harbaugh's known
 for his passion, not agility, during his time in the NFL and was queried about
 comparing himself as a player to Kaepernick.
 "When Colin is running and the stride that he has, the gracefulness with his
 stride, the ground that he covers, how fast and quick he is reminds me of
 myself," Harbaugh said tongue in cheek. "Then I wake up. But when I dream and
 have visions of how I run personally, it's the way Colin runs."
 Harbaugh wasn't the most fleet of foot, though his coaching technique is on
 the fast track to success. He never forced his ego or a my-way-or-the-highway
 approach on any of his players, which is why the 49ers have thrived under him.
 Harbaugh trusts his players and staff, and is getting quite acclimated with
 pressure-filled situations.
 With one gigantic obstacle left to hurdle, expect Harbaugh and the 49ers to
 continue what enabled the franchise to reach a sixth Super Bowl and return to
 elite status.
 01/29 12:06:37 ET

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