After leading the San Francisco 49ers to the playoffs for the first time since 2002, coach Jim Harbaugh was named the Associated Press coach of the year Saturday at the inaugural NFL Honors awards ceremony in Indianapolis.
In his first season as an NFL head coach, Harbaugh guided the 49ers to a 13-3 mark and the NFC Championship Game. They beat New Orleans in an NFC Divisional Game before losing the conference title game to the New York Giants.
"I think it was an amazing season," Harbaugh said. "In a lot of ways, beyond description. Incredible."
A former NFL quarterback and coach at Stanford, Harbaugh earned 45 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. He easily outdistanced Green Bay's Mike McCarthy, who received three votes, and Denver's John Fox, who got two.
"I've said so often how proud I was of this team. I thought they played their hearts out," Harbaugh said. "I thought we were a well-coached team. They stand toe-to-toe and fight every time they go out onto the field."
Harbaugh is the first 49ers coach to win the award since the late Bill Walsh in 1981. Both Harbaugh and Walsh won the award after the Niners went 13-3 following 6-10 seasons.
Atlanta's Mike Smith is the last man to win the award in his initial season as an NFL head coach, in 2008.
Harbaugh said his only regret was how the season ended in the overtime loss to the Giants.
"It didn't have the ending that we wanted," he said. "The football gods had a different ending in mind."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.