Before Jim Harbaugh jumped from Stanford to the 49ers last week, he consulted with his older brother and best friend, John, the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.
They discussed matters that were personal (what was best for Jim’s family) and professional (what it takes to be successful in the NFL).
Along the way, the lifelong competitors also thought about the possibility of finally squaring off again.
Separated by 15 months in age — and by a few feet when they shared the same bedroom for about 18 years — the brothers will be 53 yards apart when the 49ers visit the Ravens next season.
They are the first brothers to be coaching NFL teams at the same time. And it’s safe to assume next season’s Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh will be more eagerly anticipated than their old games of H-O-R-S-E.
“We did talk about it, and John said they’ll probably make it the Thursday night kickoff game for the opener,” Jim said. “It’ll be great.”
The defending Super Bowl champion traditionally plays in the NFL’s Thursday night opener and it’s possible the Ravens will have that distinction after they thrashed Kansas City, 30-7, in an AFC wild-card game Sunday.
For his part, John said he’s happy he won’t face his brother every year since they are in different conferences. But he wouldn’t mind annually matching wits against him on the NFL’s biggest stage.
“I am really happy that he’s not in the AFC,” John said. “We’ll see him once every four (years), plus Super Bowls.”
The NFL hasn’t set next season’s schedule. And, given the labor uncertainty, there’s no guarantee there will be a 2011 season.
But it seems likely that Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh, whenever it’s played, will be a prime-time event.
“You’re always looking for compelling storylines and that would certainly fit the bill,” said ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer, whose network broadcasts Monday Night Football.