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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.

Howard Katz, the NFL's senior vice president of media and operations, oversees the making of the NFL schedule. The former president of ABC Sports, Katz agrees the game has appeal.

"The Harbaugh brothers against each other in prime time is an interesting and intriguing notion," Katz said in an e-mail. "But we are at the very embryonic stages of developing next year's league schedule."

The game will no doubt generate a huge audience, but John Harbaugh knows of two people close to the situation who might not tune in.

"I don't know if they'll be able to make it for the game or not," he said of his parents, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh. "My dad said he's just going to take a walk during the game and not watch any of it."

MANUSKY LIKELY LEAVING

It appears defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will not return next season after four years with the 49ers.

According to Sports Illustrated, Manusky has interviews set up with Arizona, Dallas and, possibly, San Diego for defensive coordinator positions. Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera is viewed as the favorite to be named Carolina's head coach. Manusky interviewed for the Panthers' head-coaching position last week.

Harbaugh is expected to bring Stanford defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, a 24-year NFL veteran, with him to serve in the same capacity with the Niners. But Fangio is a candidate to become Stanford's next head coach. In addition, the Cowboys have contacted Fangio about becoming the defensive coordinator in Dallas, according to ESPN.

Fangio has been a defensive coordinator for the Panthers, Colts and Texans. He was a special assistant to the head coach with the Ravens from 2006-09, working under John Harbaugh his last two years in Baltimore.

For more on the 49ers, go to Instant 49ers at 49ers.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Writer Eric Branch at eric.branch@pressdemocrat.com and follow him at twitter.com/Eric_Branch.