Ravens and 49er Coaching Thoughts . . .
with a little sprinkling of thoughts about the Bears mixed in.
I like the matchup and am looking forward to the Harbaugh Bowl. I love the Ravens - next to the Bears they are my favorite team. I like their style of play with a focus on D and the running game. I also think Flacco is a very good player.
I want to point out a couple of things about the Ravens. They really scratched their way into the playoffs. They lost 4 of 5 down the stretch and finished 10-6. They lost big in the middle of the year to Houston 43-13. Those kind of numbers might have gotten John Harbaugh fired in Chicago, but because of the division the Ravens played in it was good enough to win. The Bears had a very similar season as the Ravens, but ended up short - that is the way it goes sometimes.
The 49ers went 3-2 down the stretch with a loss to St. Louis and a thumping by Seattle 42-13. Big losses happen in the NFL and teams recover.
I think the big thing that happened for both teams was that both coaches really went unconventional and made big changes during the season. The 49ers changed QBs and it certainly looks like a good move now. I think Alex Smith can play and will start again in the NFL. I expect him to end up in Cleveland with Norv Turner, but Colin K is Jim Harbaugh's guy. In Baltimore, there was some friction between Flacco and Ray Rice and Cam Cameron. The team was doing OK offensively - it was the defense that was really letting them down - but John Harbaugh fired Cameron and went with Jim Caldwell. Another big gamble that paid off for them.
What I like about these moves is that they were gamble for teams that wanted to find a way to break through to a higher level. Both ended up working out. I am hopeful that the Bears decision to be a little more bold will end up pushing them higher.