Harbaugh boys fill Lucas Oil Stadium with brotherly love

Posted Feb. 24, 2011 @ 4:31 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

INDIANAPOLIS — Among all those in attendance at Ravens head coach John Harbaugh's interview session late Thursday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine, one wide-eyed person stood out.

That would be 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, John's younger brother.

Separated by a mere 15 months, the Harbaugh boys' bond and genuine respect for one another came through loud and clear.

Having made the playoffs in each of his three years as Ravens' head coach, John Harbaugh was asked Thursday if he had any specific advice for brother, Jim, whose hiring as the Niners' 18th head coach five days after the season ended couldn't have been better received by a fan base that had grown more than a little weary of his predecessor, Mike Singletary.

"Jim doesn't need any advice from me," John said. "We grew up in the same room and had our share of battles, but we really get along well. I have tremendous respect for him. He is a proven football coach. People can downplay what he did at Stanford, but what he did there the last four years has made me really proud. He built a team that just ran over people. I mean, he just took USC to the woodshed. Sorry, USC, but that's the truth."

John was then asked if he had learned anything from Jim.

"Well, I tried to learn how to play football from him, but he must have kept that a secret," John said with a smile. "He lasted 15 years in the league, and I can't even throw the ball 30 yards."

A little more than an hour later, Jim Harbaugh spoke glowingly about his older brother in his first-ever Combine address to the national media.

"I learned so much from my brother," he said. "He has given me a lot of advice. We never coached together or worked together professionally. We played some baseball, football and hockey growing up, but that was it.

"But in my heart, we've always been one team. Now that will change next season, when the Ravens play the Niners (in Baltimore on a date to be determined), and I can guarantee you it will be very competitive."

John Harbaugh said he actually will be bonding a lot with his brother the next five days in Indianapolis.  

"We will spend a lot of time together," he said. "We'll sit in the stands together and watch all the players run. We're not big 'box' guys; we don't have suites. We'll be down there on the field with everybody else, grab a hot dog and do our evaluations."

John Harbaugh would not tip his hand on the specific needs he hoped to fill in the upcoming draft.

But he did talk about expanding the Ravens' offense in 2011 and the likelihood that QB Joe Flacco, who was not a happy camper after the season when the Ravens decided to fire QB coach Jim Zorn, will have more leeway entering his fourth season.

"Joe has been at the facility a lot," John Harbaugh said of his starting QB. "He did a lot more last year (on his own) than people think, and he'll have a bigger role this year. Joe is a highly intelligent, very conscientious guy who also is really in tune with our defense and special teams. He's capable of being very creative, and he's a big strong guy, who will only will get stronger."

John Harbaugh said the Ravens will look to employ more of a wide-open "quick game" offense.

He also filled the room with laughter when asked to talk about the growing number of head coaches, like himself, who previously worked under Eagles head coach Andy Reid.

"Andy is an amazing guy," John Harbaugh said. "It's incredible what he's done. People talk about the Mike Holmgren tree. Now Andy's got his own tree growing.

"Maybe some day we will all have our own trees with lots of branches. I already have Rex Ryan, and that is one big, sturdy branch!"