Despite having minimal NFL coaching experience of any kind, Jim Harbaugh’s hiring as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers made ownership look brilliant this past season.Harbaugh took virtually the same presumed-to-be bland 2010 roster that went 6-10 and turned it into a magical 13-3 season that ended in disappointment at the hands of the Giants in the NFC Championship Game.
But Harbaugh is not the first rookie NFL head coach to make such a big splash his first season.
Rex Ryan's fiery attitude put the New York Jets on the map and into the AFC Championship game in his first two seasons, starting in 2009.
Sure George Seifert may have inherited a defending Super Bowl championship team, but he led the 49ers to another ring in his first season as head coach in 1989.
Credit Peyton Manning and the rest of the team Tony Dungy left behind all you want, but Jim Caldwell's first year at the helm for the Indianapolis Colts turned into a Super Bowl trip.
Jim Harbaugh seems to be well on his way to restarting the NFL teams hiring college coaches trend. Finishing a few points away from the Super Bowl will do that.
With Michael Vick under centre, Jim Mora Jr. took the Atlanta Falcons to the NFC title game in his first season in 2004, losing to Philadelphia.
Like his 49ers predecessor George Seifert, Steve Mariucci inherited a fantastic San Francisco team led by a Hall of Fame quarterback. It resulted in an NFC Championship game loss to Green Bay.
Sean Payton and Drew Brees teamed up their first year with the New Orleans Saints and went all the way to the conference title game, just a year after a 13 loss season.
Like his brother Jim in San Fran, John Harbaugh caught lightning in a bottle with the Baltimore Ravens. He lost the AFC Championship game to the Steelers in 2008.
After a disappointing 8-8 season, Mike Tomlin took the Pittsburgh Steelers to the playoffs in his first year at the helm in 2007.
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