Harbaugh hopes to cap emotional week with victory

Harbaugh hopes to cap emotional week with victory
January 19, 2014, 10:15 am
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(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

No matter what happens during Sunday night’s NFC championship game, this has been an emotional week for the Harbaugh coaching brothers.

Jim Harbaugh has been focused on trying to lead the 49ers past the Seahawks, and into Super Bowl XLVIII. However, both Jim and Ravens coach John Harbaugh have grieved over the loss of their grandfather, Joe Cipiti, who died Jan. 12 at the age of 98.

Cipiti was a regular visitor to both Ravens and 49ers games and practices, and both coaches drew wisdom and inspiration from him.

“We learned that you take care of your family, take care of your family first,” Jim Harbaugh told reporters Monday. “And if you ever have any disagreements or difficulties you address them in-house with your family. And he lived that.

“He came out a lot and I got a wonderful photo of him with (tackle) Joe Staley and (guard) Mike Iupati sitting on the bench. And I talked to the guys after the (Carolina) game and told them what they meant to Grandpa Joe.”

John Harbaugh was in Cleveland on Friday to attend his grandfather’s memorial service.

For Jim, being in the national spotlight this week has given people a chance to see a different side of his personality. He is one of the NFL’s most visibly intense sideline coaches, yet he also has a sense of humor, and he certainly does not waste his salary on clothes. Harbaugh has a preference for $8 khakis, as his wife, Sarah, told 99.7 FM’s “Fernando and Greg” show in the Bay Area. Even when Sarah has tried to change her husband's wardrobe, he has resisted.

“I threw them out and when he went to the combine, he found a Walmart,” Sarah Harbaugh told the radio show. “They were $8. 8!”

In Harbaugh’s case, $8 khakis means dressing for success. He has led the 49ers to three consecutive NFC championship games. If the 49ers win the Super Bowl, the Harbaugh family will claim back-to-back Lombardi Trophies, following the Ravens’ victory over Jim and the 49ers in last year’s Super Bowl. 

Sunday’s NFC championship game will be another special moment for the Harbaugh family, one that Cipiti would love. The Harbaugh brothers gave their grandfather plenty of great moments. But he did the same for them.

“Grandpa Joe is with me and I’m with him and he knows that,” Jim Harbaugh said.  

[RELATED: NFC prediction: Seahawks will outlast 49ers]