Some siblings try to beat each other in backyard games. John and Jim Harbaugh will do it in the biggest game of all. Yes, get ready for the Brother Bowl.
It’ll be Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh when Big Bro John’s Ravens play Little Bro Jim’s 49ers in the Super Bowl at New Orleans in two weeks.
As much chatter as there will be about the players involved — from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his impending retirement to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s sudden emergence — the Harbaugh family angle will make this coaching matchup the most scrutinized in the nearly half-century of Super Sundays.
The Harbaughs’ sister, Joani Crean, wrote in a text to The Associated Press: “Overwhelmed with pride for John, Jim and their families! They deserve all that has come their way! Team Harbaugh!”
Who’s a parent to cheer for?
During the 2011 regular season, the Harbaughs became the only brothers to coach against each other in any NFL game (the Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6 on Thanksgiving Day that year).
Now they’ll be squaring off with a championship at stake in a Super Bowl filled with firsts — and one truly significant last.
It will be the first one between coaching brothers, of course.
First one for Joe Flacco, the oft-doubted Ravens quarterback with the superb touch on deep balls and a QB-record six postseason road wins.
First one for Kaepernick, the second-year player with the sprinter’s speed and a shoulder that zips throws like the high-school baseball pitcher he used to be.
And it will be the last game for 17-year veteran Lewis, Baltimore’s emotional leader and this postseason’s top tackler with 44 so far.
“This is our time,” Lewis pronounced.
He appeared to be on the verge of tears before and after helping Baltimore become the only team in 68 tries to overcome a halftime deficit against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Foxborough, Mass.
The NFC West champion 49ers (13-4-1) open as 5-point favorites, seeking a record-tying sixth Super Bowl title but first since 1995. The franchise of Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young is 5-0 in Super Bowls.
The AFC South champion Ravens (13-6) are headed to their second Super Bowl; Lewis was the MVP when Baltimore beat the New York Giants in 2001.