After the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Carolina Panthers and advanced to the NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks, head coach Jim Harbaugh invoked Oakland Raiders legendary coach and owner Al Davis when asked about past meetings between the two teams: “What’s relevant is that our team won the game. As Mr. Al Davis said so profoundly, ‘Just Win Baby.'”
While Harbaugh has made his name as an NFL head coach in San Francisco, he began his coaching career across the bay in Oakland. After finishing a 15-year career as a quarterback in the NFL, Harbaugh was hired as the quarterbacks coach for the Raiders and then-head coach Bill Callahan.
While with the Raiders, he coached quarterback Rich Gannon who, awkwardly enough, had entered the NFL as a player in the same year that Harbaugh had. Gannon soon got over the initial awkwardness of being coached by a guy he was once a peer on the field with and had a very good year, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Harbaugh would not be a Raider for very long as he left the team after just two seasons in order to go coach at the University of San Diego. When he decided to leave, owner Al Davis tried to convince him not to but Harbaugh felt like he wanted to be a head coach and needed to take the opportunity.
Harbaugh even told Davis that he was following his footsteps in a way by going to college to get his first head coaching job. Davis quickly noted the difference saying “but that was at U-S-C not U-S-D” . But Davis’ talk made no difference; Harbaugh was determined to be a head coach and for good reason.
It did not take him long to find his way back to the NFL as he experienced a ton of success at his two stops on the way back to the big time. And now that he is considered one of the best coaches in the NFL, he has not forgotten the man who gave him his first opportunity to coach.
Harbaugh has said in the past that he learned an immense amount of knowledge on being a coach in the NFL from Davis and it is obvious that the relationship had an impact on Harbaugh. This is not the first time he has used the infamous “Just Win Baby” mantra, though the time he used it in December, he forgot to finish with a “Baby” but the sentiment was there.
He has now said the phrase two days in a row, mentioning it again in his Monday press conference a day after uttering those three famous words during his postgame presser in Charlotte. From yesterday, in response to a question about whether a quarterback has done his job — regardless of stats — as long as the team wins:
“He’s got many jobs, the quarterback. I was a young assistant coach, when I first started coaching, for Mr. [former Oakland Raiders owner] Al Davis. And, I didn’t understand how profound the statement ‘just win baby’ was, even when I was there. I thought I knew, but I didn’t know to the extent that I know now. Just win baby.”
It makes sense then, why Harbaugh has said that he feels like the Raiders and 49ers fan bases should be able to get along and that the teams should be able to work together. While he clearly bleeds red and gold now, silver and black once flowed through his veins and left a mark.