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49ers Jim Harbaugh: A New Kind of Coach


Editors Note: With great pleasure I’d like to introduce you to Niner Noise’s newest staff writer Bill Dwinells

In the last 10 years, NFL fans have been witnessing a changing of the guard in the coaching spectrum in the NFL. No longer is it stoic, stern faced, emotionless coaches roaming the sidelines merely calling plays and making substitutions at critical intervals and letting the chips fall where they may. Coaches have become extensions of their players and vice-versa. Coaches in the NFL have become more animated, impassioned, and all around more involved in the emotional aspect of the game.

The San Francisco 49ers have been at the forefront of this movement with their last few head coaches. Actually, one could say that the Niners started this movement. It goes back to Steve Mariucci who coached the Niners from 1997-2002. Granted Mooch wasn’t the first coach in NFL history to “wear his heart on his sleeve” but come on, this is Niner Noise right? Looking at the 49ers head coaches from 1997 until right now: Mooch, (skip Dennis Erickson), Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, (skip Jim Tomsula), and now Jim Harbaugh, all of these coaches had one main thing in common, their passion for the game. Now, I am in no way suggesting that other coaches aren’t passionate about their jobs and their teams, I just mean to say that the York family has clearly been in search of a certain type of coach. Whether it is Mooch and his emotion on and off the field, Mike Nolan and his rebellious attitude (he routinely got fined for wearing suits on the sidelines), Mike Singletary’s benching and dismissal of Vernon Davis for “not playing like a winner” or now Jim Harbaugh and the handshake incident with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. These among other things made these coaches stand out in the memories of Niners fans and always given us reason to believe that we would be rewarded for our loyalty with a 6th, 7th, and even 8th Lombardi trophy. The York family and Jed York specifically have been searching for that coach that will light a fire under his players with his emotion, passion, drive, and flat out hunger to win and restore the 49ers to the greatness they once enjoyed.

For 49ers fans, it has been at times a long, hard road getting to where we are now as 49ers fans. While all of the coaches I listed had some of the qualities and characteristics I described, they lacked the most important one, the ability to translate that fire and passion in to winning. This is (as of now) where Harbaugh has succeeded. Jim Harbaugh has taken the 49ers to new heights and should only go higher if he maintains that fire he most definitely seems to have. Coach Harbaugh is clearly football smart, knows his “X’s and O’s” and can put together a game plan, but coaching is more than that, think of all the “great football minds” that could game plan with the best of them but failed as head coaches (Brad Childress, Eric Mangini, Leslie Frazier, and Nick Saban (in the NFL at least) are just a few that come to mind) and the reason being is because they lacked emotion, they lacked passion, they weren’t invested in their players and their team to the extent Jim Harbaugh is. He exudes confidence and that rubs off on his players, they have clearly bought in to his style, and I am happy to say, so have I.

Bill Dwinells
(@BDwins651 on Twitter)

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  • http://keepingitheel.com/ KIH Matt

    man I can still remember the horrible feeling I got when we hired Erickson and Nolan.  I liked Singletary for a little while but that didn’t last.  Thank God we got Harbaugh!  Great column Bill, welcome to the Niner Noise team!  GO 49ERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!