Jim Harbaugh Has Right Mentality to Lead San Francisco 49ers to the Top

49ers fans are rejoicing with the news announced on Friday — they got their guy. Jim Harbaugh will become the new head coach of the fabled 49ers, signing a five-year deal. After years of doom and gloom, there is renewed hope for Niners fans that the sun will come up tomorrow.

Harbaugh had become the most highly sought after commodity in football after leading his Stanford Cardinal to a 12-1 season and a 40-12 BCS Orange Bowl beat down over Virginia Tech. Already a fan favorite in the Bay Area, Harbaugh is choosing to stay close to home, which will be a perfect fit. The victory starved fans in the Bay Area are a loyal bunch — give a little and they will give back more. Market St. never looked better than during a victory parade, just ask the Giants.

This was a very smart hire for the 49ers on several accounts. A fertile offensive mind like Harbaugh’s will free the weary fans from choking on the three clouds of dust and the punt they have been forced to witness time and time again. Season ticket holders will no doubt be much more inclined to renew. They will want to see what Harbaugh can do with a group of players many people felt should have performed better.

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Two Parent Homes Attractive for Character Conscious Scott Pioli

About a month ago there was a fantastic feature in SI written (of course) by the great Joe Posnanski about Chiefs GM Scott Pioli. Pioli is private and often avoids interviews in an effort to keep his personality and business methods to himself. In this sense the GM is able to maintain a competitive advantage over his competition — keep in mind, Pioli played a large role in forming three Super Bowl-winning teams with the Patriots.

The SI piece (well worth your time) provided excellent insight into Pioli’s ideals when building a team. He searches for high character team players who love the game, want to win, and aspire to achieve greatness for their teammates. One aspect for Pioli in identifying high character players is finding ones who come from two-parent homes.

This point was brought to my attention while watching Inside the NFL on Showtime. I didn’t realize it, but this was actually the subject of an article in the Montreal Gazette two weeks ago, and though it doesn’t mean Pioli restricts himself to players from two-parent homes, it points to the stability two-parent homes provide that is appealing for the Chiefs. Six of the seven players they drafted were captains of their college teams. 11 of 17 key players on their squad came from homes where their parents played a prominent role in their lives.

Kansas City may not have the absolute best players, but they’re going for the right players for what they want to do. And that’s not to assemble the greatest collection of talent in the NFL, but to create the best team.

Dolphins Handling of Tony Sparano is Completely Unprofessional

When all the dust clears, it’s likely that Tony Sparano will return to coach the Miami Dolphins and feel fortunate to still have a head coaching job in the NFL.  However, that doesn’t mean the relationship between he and Miami owner Stephen Ross won’t be strained.  Why shouldn’t it be?  The Dolphins have been openly and actively considering new candidates for their head coaching position — a position that has remain filled by Sparano the entire time.

Miami is 25-23 in three seasons under Sparano.  That record is nothing phenomenal, but it’s not all that poor either.  Whether or not he deserves to remain the coach of the Dolphins is beside the point.  While Sparano was still under contract with the team, Miami was courting Jim Harbaugh and setting up meetings with Eric Mangini.  Harbaugh has since accepted a position to coach the 49ers and Ross insists the meeting with Mangini was for nothing more than to pick his brain as a “consultant” who has intimate knowledge of the AFC East, but I doubt any of this talk made Sparano feel all warm and tingly.

According to Pro Football Talk, the Dolphins may end up making a “financial apology” to Sparano now that they realize he is their best option and don’t want to fire him afterall.

The bottom line is Miami’s front office has handled the situation in a completely unprofessional manner.  News is now circulating that Sparano will be “back” next season, but the problem is he never left.  Teams are never allowed to talk to other players who are under contract with other teams, so why should they be allowed to interview coaching candidates when they don’t have an open position?  If I were Sparano, I’d make sure that “financial apology” had a lot of zeros on the end of it.

Jim Harbaugh Accepts Offer to Coach San Francisco 49ers

After a roller coaster week regarding his future, former Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh has decided to take the leap into the NFL and coach the San Francisco 49ers.  Harbaugh reportedly signed a five-year contract worth $25 million after a week when it was speculated that he may be offered up to 5 years and $80 million to coach the Dolphins.  That clearly was never the case, as it would be tough to imagine any coach turning down that sum of money.

Harbaugh was 29-21 in four seasons at Stanford.  He led his team to a 12-1 season this year that was capped off with an impressive 40-12 win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.  Harbaugh is responsible for injecting life into a Stanford football program that was 1-11 the season before he took over in 2006.

As the week progressed, it appeared Harbaugh might stay at Stanford for another season.  Sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck made a surprising decision to pass up a guaranteed No. 1 pick in the draft and return to school for his junior season, so many believed it was likely his coach would join him for another run.  Instead, Harbaugh decided to cash in on the opportunity to coach at the NFL level.  He replaces Mike Singletary, who was a disappointing 18-22 in two-plus seasons as the coach of the 49ers.

Report: Egotistical Charlie Weis and Todd Haley Often Screamed at Each Other

A head-scratching news item was revealed last weekend, just before Kansas City’s season finale against the Raiders. It was reported and then confirmed that Charlie Weis would be leaving his position as offensive coordinator of the Chiefs for the same role at the University of Florida. Because Weis was not ascending in the coaching ranks — and arguably descending going from the NFL to college — many people wondered what sparked the move.

The carefully crafted public relations message conveyed was that Weis was moving to Florida to coach along with his son who is going to be a freshman in Gainesville. I never believed that nonsense, as only a sucker would, but I still wondered what the real reason was. Well luckily I got to hear an interview with KCSP host Nick Wright on JT The Brick’s Show on FOX Sports Radio, and let’s just say Wright did not hold back. Check out all the information he offered that most people would be afraid to say:

They bold-faced lied everybody. Todd Haley said it’s ‘bittersweet’ for me and that it’s purely family. That may or may not be true, here’s a few facts for you — Weis and Haley screamed at each other throughout the season. A handful of different players compared it to a bitter married couple. That’s a fact.

What’s also a fact, is that Charlie Weis is as egotistical, and worries more about who gets the credit than any coach I’ve ever been around. And it is not a shock to me at all that Charlie Weis left for Florida. You think the Chiefs wanted this [news] out? The Chiefs don’t let us talk to their players half the team. Charlie Weis let them leak it.

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Who Steps Up Between Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick? Doc and Del Playoff Picks

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If you couldn’t already tell on Monday when we posted the TV schedule for the weekend NFL playoff games, we’re absolutely salivating over the Packers-Eagles matchup on Sunday. It’s a rematch of week one, but so much has changed since then. Namely, Michael Vick — an MVP candidate — is now the quarterback of the Eagles instead of Kevin Kolb. Doc and Del, who each picked at over 65% ATS in their Top 3 throughout the year, are providing their picks for the Wild Card Weekend playoff games before heading over to our local T.G.I Friday’s to get our Jack Daniels grill on. Here are our picks:


Doc’s Pick: Forget the toe sucker and Mr. Dead Arm, this is the marquee matchup of the weekend. Vick says he’s recovered from a quad injury that kept him out of the season finale against the Cowboys. Though he was spectacular most of the season, the Vikings, Bears, and Giants (for 52 minutes) were able to shut him down. What’s the common thread with all three teams? A speedy, athletic, and stellar front seven. The Packers have similar personnel and can contain Mike Vick. The question is whether or not Green Bay’s offense, which can be explosive some games while struggling to find a rhythm in others, can score points. As much as the Doc loves Aaron Rodgers, he sees another slow-starting game for the Packers that ends in disappointment. Eagles 24 Packers 21

Del’s Pick: Had Aaron Rodgers not suffered two concussions during the regular season, the Packers likely wouldn’t have to face the Eagles on Wild Card Weekend. Such is life in the NFL. Michael Vick is obviously one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the game, but Rodgers is right up there with him. Like Vick, Rodgers can even do some damage with his legs. Green Bay’s pass defense ranked 5th in the NFL this season, so they have the ability to make Vick beat them on the ground. In fact, LeSean McCoy could end up being the most important player in this game. Del envisions the Packers’ offense jumping out an early lead which could force the Eagles to become more one dimensional. Green Bay is a lot better than their six seed indicates, and they should prove it right out of the gate. Packers 28 Eagles 21

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Rex Ryan: Peyton Manning Studies More, Has Less Coaching Help than Tom Brady

One of the great sports bar debates of our era involves the top quarterbacks in football: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. Pats fans of course go with Brady all day, while Colts (and Saints) fans will argue they prefer Peyton. Most people either prefer one to the other, or oscillate in the debate based on who’s having the better season. I’ve always put stats aside and said I prefer Brady, with his incredible 2007 and 2010 seasons proving the case. If you ask Rex Ryan for his pick, it’s obviously Peyton Manning.

The bloviating Jets coach took time out of his busy foot rubbing schedule to explain why Peyton is better than Tom:

“Nobody studies like [Manning]. I know [Tom] Brady thinks he does and all that stuff,” Ryan said. “I think there’s probably a little more help from [Bill] Belichick with Brady than there is with Peyton Manning.”

“He’s not just a coach on the field,” Ryan said. “You give the coaching community too much credit. This guy is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game, and he’s one of the smartest guys. And it’s not just a coach dialing up plays. He dials his own plays.”

Rex was answering a question about how gifted Peyton is and introduced the Brady comparison without prompting. That’s sure to tick off Patriots fans who watched Tom light up the Jets for 326 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-3 butt-whipping week 13. I suppose it’s not surprising to hear Rex knock Tom; the two got into it before the season started after Tom said he hated the Jets and Rex responded saying the feeling was mutual.

Now that the stakes have been raised, I know I’m not alone in hoping that a Patriots-Jets playoff game comes up. All we need is a Jets upset of the Colts to see it happen. Can Rex take care of business first?