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Harbaugh has trouble keeping friends, but his players like him

  • By Marc Sessler NFL.com
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We saw Jim Harbaugh's competitive fire burn bright Sunday, perhaps a little too bright in his post-victory handshake antics with Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz.

The San Francisco Chronicle recalled words from Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Jim's older brother, revealing that the 49ers coach has struggled making friends since early in life.

"He would alienate the other kids, so I was really the only friend he had,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told The Associated Press in September. 

"We joke that dad's (Jack Harbaugh's coaching) profession was the perfect profession for Jim, because after two years, he'd be like, 'It's time to move, dad. I've lost all my friends.' We were in Iowa one time and dad felt bad because we were leaving for Michigan. He tried to break it to us, and Jim goes, ‘Just in time, dad. I just ran out of my last friend.'"

But when it comes to his 49ers players -- his own guys -- the friendship is real, as punter Andy Lee has discovered this season.

"One thing I saw in him that's very rare -- and even (placekicker) David (Akers) and some of the other guys who have been around a lot of other head coaches -- we'll be eating lunch and he'll come sit down and eat lunch with us," Lee told the Chronicle. 

"Not saying anything bad, but kicker, punter, long-snapper sitting there eating lunch, you normally don't get (much company), you're kind of by yourself sometimes. But he’ll come and sit down and talk with you, talk about your family, things other than football. He’s just really involved in our lives and it's a cool thing to have in a head coach also."

Maybe Jim didn't play well with the other kids, but he's playing well now. With the 49ers at 5-1 -- three victories better than anyone else in the NFC West -- we get the feeling Jim will have a chance to shake more hands -- nicely, this time -- before this thing's through.

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