San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh apparently thought Colin Kaepernick was a No. 1 overall value, but he took a calculated risk in the 2011 draft.
The conclusion can be drawn from something Jim’s dad, Jack, said Wednesday.
As the elder Harbaugh’s story went, the first day of the 2011 draft had ended. The second round would begin the following day.
“Jim called on his way home and he asked what I thought,” Jack Harbaugh said. “He had not expressed to me who they were thinking about drafting at the quarterback position, so I said, ‘Jim, tomorrow in the second round, surely you’re going to draft a quarterback, but which one is it going to be?’ And it was dead silent.
“Then he said, ‘Are you talking to anybody?’ ”
That’s how wary Jim Harbaugh was about the 49ers’ big secret falling into enemy hands. He was grilling his own father.
“I said, ‘I swear, I’m not talking to anyone,’ ” Jack Harbaugh said. “He said, ‘We’re drafting Colin Kaepernick. I not only think that he’s the best quarterback in the draft, I think he’s the best football player in the draft, and we’re going with Colin Kaepernick.’
“And I thought to myself, ‘Wise decision.’ ”
Taking the story at face value, the 49ers ultimately thought they could wait and still get Kaepernick. Otherwise, why would they have risked losing him, as opposed to spending their first-round pick, at No. 7 overall, on linebacker Aldon Smith?
The 49ers got nervous when Cincinnati drafted quarterback Andy Dalton at No. 35 overall. Had someone from the Browns camp talked? Were the Browns ready to pounce on Kaepernick with the No. 36 overall pick?
Was the Harbaugh spy network getting busy? Jim’s brother John, the head coach in Baltimore, had been with Browns head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert in Philadelphia.
Did someone alert Jim Harbaugh that Cleveland, which wound up going into 2011 with 2010 third-round pick Colt McCoy as its man, would pounce on Kaepernick?
Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers made a deal with Denver, trading up to No. 36 and snatching Kaepernick. The Browns went next, at No. 37, picking defensive end Jabaal Sheard.
Cleveland entered 2012 looking for an upgrade over McCoy, the upgrade, perhaps, that might have come from Kaepernick. With the No. 23 overall pick, the Browns took quarterback Brandon Weeden. Before replacing Heckert, speaking as a media analyst, Michael Lombardi called the move “panicky.”
Lombardi’s point: Weeden would have been available in the second round.
The unanswered question: Was the Weeden pick a Kaepernick-induced panic?
In the beginning
Before Super Bowl coaches John and Jim Harbaugh ever had a chance, their parents had to meet at Bowling Green.
Page 2 of 2 - Jack Harbaugh recalls sitting in a class taught by then-Bowling Green head coach Doyt Perry.
“It was Football 101,” Jack Harbaugh said Wednesday. “There were 35 guys in the class.
“On the first day, Doyt stood up and he said, ‘How many of you want to be coaches?’ Of course, 35 hands went up.
“Then he said, ‘I’m going to tell you the three things necessary for you to be a coach.
“No. 3, you have to have a love and passion for the game. No. 2, you need to outwork the people you are coaching against. I’ve been around you for about a year and there’s not many of you here that are going to outsmart anybody.’
“And he said, ‘No. 1, if you want to be a coach, marry wisely.’ ”
Jackie Harbaugh, seated beside him in New Orleans, smiled when he said that.
“She’s the one that moved us 17 times in a 43-year coaching career,” Jack Harbaugh said. “She sold houses at every stop and she bought houses at every stop.
“She took them in to school and out of school. This is my hero right here, Jackie Harbaugh.”
Steve Doerschuk writes for the Canton, Ohio, Repository.