Harbaugh: 'The players are the ones we should be talking about'
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh (left) described the 49ers-Ravens matchup as a "blessing and a curse." (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SANTA CLARA -- The big storyline for Super Bowl XLVII is the coaching matchup of brothers Jim and John Harbaugh.
It's an angle to the game that Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers' coach, is not likely to endorse next week when he meets with the national media on a daily basis.
"I can take a pass, personally, from that because I can choose to take the approach that this is our football team and we have to do what's best for our football team to win the next game," a cordial Harbaugh said Monday, a day after the 49ers advanced to the franchise's sixth Super Bowl with a 28-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game.
The 49ers will face John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens, a 28-13 winner over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 in New Orleans.
When asked if he will decline to answer questions about his brother, Jim Harbaugh said, "As few as possible. And make it about the game and the players playing the game."
The 49ers coach said he watched the Ravens' victory on the team's flight back to the Bay Area on Sunday. He described the 49ers-Ravens matchup as a "blessing and a curse."
"Blessing because it is my brother's team and also, personally, I played for the Ravens," Harbaugh said. "Great respect for their organization. Worked with Ozzie Newsome and Art Modell, his love and passion for the National Football League. I know many of the Baltimore Ravens players and have a great respect for them and their team and happy for them. Happy for us that we made it to this point.
"The curse part would be that the talk of two brothers (coaching) in the Super Bowl and what it takes away from the players in the game. And every moment you talk about myself or John, that's less time that the players are going to be talked about."
John Harbaugh spoke about his brother Monday at his press conference in Baltimore.
"Jim's just done a great job with the team." the Ravens coach said. "I'm proud of him and what he's accomplished as a coach, but more so as a man. A family man, as a father, as a brother, as a son. Their football team reflects his personality -- they're tough, they're hard-nosed,they're physical, they play field-position football. They've added the element of big plays this year. All those things. We're just going to have to prepare for a really great football team."
It was a little more difficult for Jim Harbaugh to warm up to a question about his brother on Monday when asked what makes John such a great coach.
"That's pretty well-documented," Harbaugh said. "I've talked about that quite a bit. He's a great football coach. Like I said earlier, a real grasp of all phases -- offensively, defensively, special teams. I think he could coordinate at least two of those phases and be as good as anybody in the league or better. I probably got half the coaching experience he does. Half the amount of wins, half the amount of playoff appearances, all of those things. . . Very proud of my brother."