The 49ers and Ravens punched their Super Bowl tickets Sunday. But that route to New Orleans got a shot in the arm during the season with two bold, some would say controversial, moves that could've rocked each team and blown up this eventual ride.
Oh, those Harbaugh boys.
As the Bears well know, Jim rolled the dice with the Colin Kaepernick-for-Alex Smith swap at quarterback right before that mid-November Monday Nighter. Nine starts later, he'll be on the sport's biggest stage. Smith was the safe route. The sophomore signal-caller from Milwaukee via Nevada had the higher ceiling. Only Harbaugh seemed to know how quickly he was capable of reaching it. And he probably hasn't yet, but he's gone high enough to get the Niners back in "The Big One."
In early December, John didn't like what he saw in the Ravens' offense, either. His move didn't involve Joe Flacco – but the (get this, Bears fans) the offensive coordinator. With three games left, Cam Cameron was out, and ex-Colts head coach Jim Caldwell was in. Now, the return to health of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and adjustments to injuries in the secondary are certainly a huge factor, but Flacco's found another level under Caldwell.
Two moves by the Harbaughs to get the most out of their quarterbacks has wound up getting the most from their respective teams.
Rather than look back and debate whether moving Jay Cutler's trusted coach – Jeremy Bates – into a play-calling position above Mike Tice would've saved the season, let's look ahead and talk about Phil Emery's bold decision last week.
His hand-picked man over 13 or 14 other interviewees - Marc Trestman – was not even interviewed by any of the other clubs looking for a new head coach. If not for Emery, Trestman's likely preparing for a sixth season running the Montreal Alouettes.
A season wasn't on the line like it was in San Francisco and Baltimore, but Emery's positive reputation (so far) as general manager is, for the NFL's charter franchise. Bears players are publicly "buying in" to the new man in charge – but privately, they have to be wondering why no one else was interested in Trestman, and why he's been MIA from the NFL the past eight years, save for one season advising Sean Payton in New Orleans. Trestman was interviewed in Indianapolis a year ago for the job that eventually went to Chuck Pagano.
Will 'bold' work for the Bears, too?
CSN Chicago | Jan 22