So, you may ask, how do I know that Jim Harbaugh is a jerk? Well, for starters, there was his postgame skirmish with Lions coach Jim Schwartz on Sunday that was more circus than showdown thanks to some immaturity from both men. Harbaugh's reluctance to really acknowledge his role in the whole thing aside from saying he may have shook Scwhartz's hand too hard may not help Harbaugh's case either.
Exhibit B in the "Jim Harbaugh may kind of be a jerk" is the fact that happy-go-lucky Pete Carroll doesn't seem to like the guy, and Pete Carroll seems to like everybody.
Ergo, Harbaugh must be at least kind of a jerk. Sound logic, right?
However, if you look at Harbaugh's contract with the 49ers, there's likely no "nice guy" clause in it. There's probably no clause regarding postgame handshakes, so Harbaugh's in the clear there, too.
After Sunday, the 49ers coach is being criticized by some for his actions after the game. Fair criticisms in most cases, sure, but let's not forget the bigger point.
Jim Harbaugh wants to win football games, and he doesn't care if he ticks anyone off in the process. Just ask him.
"To see your guys go out and perform that way, yeah, you do get emotional," Harbaugh said after the game. "It fires me up. It fires me up a lot. I'm not going to apologize for that. If that offends you or anyone else, so be it."
That type of attitude isn't only refreshing, it's been pretty darn successful.
Say what you want about Harbaugh's brash attitude, but you can't argue the results. Every coaching stop he's made, he's been a winner. The fact that he does so with such little care about what anyone else thinks about him is something that should be embraced, not criticized.
Consider Harbaugh's last two coaching jobs as the head coach at Stanford and his current job with the 49ers.
In the five seasons prior to Harbaugh's arrival at Stanford, the Cardinal were a combined 16-40. The year before he took over, they went 1-11. In just four years, Harbaugh delivered a BCS bowl win.
And all he's done in San Francisco is take over a team that went 6-10 a year before and lead them to a 5-1 record to open this season. Keep in mind, too, that Harbaugh took the Niners' job in January only to see the NFL lockout freeze his preparations for the season two months later.
A lot of the success stems from the same thing that turns a lot of people about Harbaugh — his actions, words, maneurisms, attitude, etc.
The biggest thing a coach can do in helping to turn around a losing franchise is to change the culture. It's a cliche, sure, but it rings true. Harbaugh projects a winning attitude onto his team. He goes over the top in doing so. He sets the tone with the way he acts and talks, and as a result, it doesn't take much to catch on.
A win here, and a win there, and the winning attitude becomes contagious. When you get on a roll like 49ers are on right now, it continues to spread. Go in to an undefeated team's house and come away with the win, and you might be on to something special.
Are the 49ers as good as Harbaugh likes to think and portray? Well, no. Sure, the defense is pretty impressive, but there's still plenty to be desired on the offensive side. Remember, Alex Smith is still the quarterback out there. That's the same Alex Smith that San Francisco fans wanted to see benched last season in favor of guys like Troy Smith or David Carr.
Still, even Alex Smith has seen something of a resurgence under Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback himself. Unsurprisingly, you can count Smith among those in the 49ers' locker room that has bought into the system.
"I think this team loves and appreciates the fact that our coach is fiery and a competitor," Smith said on Monday.
After the Niners' win on Sunday, Harbaugh gave his team a rousing postgame speech, obviously still drunk on adrenaline from the game's end and Handshakegate. Still, as the 49ers broke down their huddle as they always do.
"Who's got it better than us?!" Harbaugh screamed.
A chorus of "Noooobody," followed.
For now, not many teams have it better than Harbaugh's 49ers, and that's a testament to him arguably more than anything else. Sure, he may be a jerk, but at least it's entertaining. More importantly, it's working.
As long as the 49ers keep winning, Harbaugh may be looked at as a hard-nosed jerk but he doesn't care what I or anyone else thinks. You can call him whatever you want, as far Harbaugh's concerned. Just as long as you call him a winner.