The fact that John and Jim Harbaugh each have their teams in the conference championship for a second straight season is not a coincidence. The Harbaugh brothers are tremendous NFL coaches and masters of motivation, which is why we would never question any of Jim Harbaugh’s motivational tactics — no matter how strange they may seem.
According to the LA Times, Harbaugh had someone hang photos of each San Francisco 49ers player from their high school days above their locker at Candlestick park last weekend. As you know, the Niners went on to defeat the Green Bay Packers. We’ll never know if the photos of their teenage selves motivated the team, but it certainly created a buzz before the big game.
Harbaugh declined to elaborate on the unusual ritual, but safety Donte Whitner tried to shed some light on it.
“Coach really wants us to tap into what we wanted to be at that time,” Whitner explained. “When you look at this picture, it’s like, ‘At this moment, what did I want to be?’ We all look at this and we understand what we wanted to be, and where we are now.”
The players have had a lot of fun with the photos, needling one another for the way people looked in high school and comparing where they were ranked at their respective positions back in the day. Some, like Randy Moss, were ranked No. 1 in every possible category while others, like defensive tackle Ray McDonald, were unranked nationally and in his own homestate of Florida.
“Reminds me of how bad I [stunk] when I was in high school,” McDonald said.
Perhaps Harbaugh was going for a “look how far I’ve come” moment for his players. Maybe he was simply trying to lighten the mood before the most important game of the season. This is the same Harbaugh who once toyed with the media by talking about baseball during his scheduled press conference, so don’t expect him to ever explain himself. When you’ve coached your way to the NFC Championship game in your first two season as the coach of a team, there are generally no explanations needed.