What’s the deal with Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll?
By Liz Mathews
Head coaches Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh spoke at the owners’ meeting this offseason, although the two are hardly friends. The conversation consisted of football and the transition to the NFL.
“I like him, I like being around him,” Harbaugh said of Carroll during his conference call on Wednesday. “We donâ€™t socialize. You wouldnâ€™t call us friends or anything like that but I got to say that really, the only friend I have in the NFL is my brother [Ravens coach John Harbaugh] whoâ€™s on an opposing team. Weâ€™re trying to beat those guys, you know.”
But not quite two years ago, the conversation wasn’t nearly as amicable. After USC’s 55-21 loss to Stanford at the Coliseum, Carroll and Harbaugh met at midfield to exchange some postgame words.
â€œHe said, â€˜Whatâ€™s your deal?â€™ I said, â€˜Whatâ€™s your deal?â€™” Harbaugh explained. “And then from there, itâ€™s about as well-documented a six word sentence as there could be. I just find it very irrelevant and not very intriguing. It had little to do with the game then and it has very little to do with the game now.”
All now being said and done, Harbaugh has great respect for Carroll and everything he has done for the game of football, including what he has managed here in Seattle. But Harbaugh has his own job to do in his first season as head coach of the 49ers.
And one of his early tasks was naming Alex Smith the starting quarterback.
“Well, just in a nutshell, I thought it was the best thing for our team,â€ Harbaugh said.
“Throughout the training camp since weâ€™ve been together — great attention to detail, takes a lot of pride in his own personal performance and the offenseâ€™s performance and the teamâ€™s performance,” Harbaugh said of Smith. “Great leader, great team guy. I think heâ€™s getting more and more comfortable and confident in what weâ€™re doing and what heâ€™s doing.â€
And the 49ers rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick isn’t looking too shabby, either. “Kapâ€™s been really good growing,” Harbaugh said. “Itâ€™s a process for him. Very bright, very strong armed lad. Sturdy guy, very competitive and Iâ€™ve been really pleased with Colinâ€™s progress.â€
Speaking of quarterbacks, Harbaugh was the last quarterback to start for the Indianapolis Colts before Peyton Manning took the helm. Manning has now been officially ruled out for Sunday, ending his streak of 227 consecutive starts.
“I know my last year with Indianapolis was 1997 so that really speaks volumes for the impact that heâ€™s had on the Indianapolis Colts, the longevity and tremendous performance,” Harbaugh said.
49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith also spoke with the media via conference call on Wednesday.