Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Composure and Resilience Define Jim Harbaugh's Impact on San Francisco 49ers

Forget the infamous Jim Harbaugh/Jim Schwartz postgame scuffle. Forget Schwartz' comments before the game. Forget Harbaugh's over-celebratory postgame handshake to a Lions coach that was clearly not in the mood.

Monday and Tuesday have now passed and with the Harbaugh/Schwartz debate dying down, it is time to talk about the actual game. More specifically, let's talk about the 49ers, a top-3 team in the NFC.

The Lions/49ers game on Sunday was as good an example as any as to what Harbaugh has brought to this team.

Down 10-0 in the first quarter on the road at Ford Field against that type of defense would force any team to completely shut down. However, it was this new mindset the 49ers now have that fueled them to a tremendous effort the rest of that first half, and into real contention in the second half.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the 49ers' locker room at halftime. Judging by the postgame handshake, postgame press conference and postgame speech, i can only imagine Harbaugh's halftime pep talk to be something along the lines of the movie "Miracle."

Does Alex Smith, with his back up against the wall, lead the 49ers down the field on their final possession of the game without Harbaugh on the sidelines?

Doubt it.

This new "never say never" attitude that was hinted at in the Eagles game, and clear as ever in the Lions game, comes from the head coach.

The cool and calm appearance of Smith marching down the field, with all parts of the offense working together, comes from the head coach.

The 4th and goal from the six-yard line made that as clear as ever.

If it was not evident what Harbaugh is doing in San Francisco after the handshake, it most certainly was in that postgame speech to his players.

The fire and the passion does not come through any more clearer than through Harbaugh's actions, and his team responds time and time again.

He asks Smith to take care of the ball, Gore to keep on keeping on and the defense to make plays. He expects the players to rise up and play above their ability level, and that was what happened on Sunday in Detroit.

Harbaugh is doing special things in San Francisco, and his team is responding with W's and ever-growing aspirations.

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