How should these four coaches be sorted? The one definitely headed to Canton? It's Bill Belichick. The one with the most recent ring? It's Tom Coughlin. The hungriest? It's John Harbaugh. The one who has done the best job this season? It's Jim Harbaugh.
Obviously, all four know how to push the right buttons to motivate their teams, and each understands how to build a team for success in January (and maybe February), so ranking them is a little like grabbing names out of a hat.
1. Bill Belichick. He has an elite quarterback, but he's held a weak defense together with gum and baling wire.
2. Jim Harbaugh. He's transformed Alex Smith into a a real quarterback. He put his best offensive players — Vernon Davis and Frank Gore — in position to deliver Saturday. And when the Saints took the lead — twice — in the final few minutes, his team didn't buckle.
3. Tom Coughlin. He's old-school tough with the most balanced formula out there. Mainly, he throws the ball with Eli Manning and defends the throw with the rush of a great defensive line.
4. John Harbaugh. He's ridden the defense this far, as usual. But the offense hasn't progressed.
Jim Harbaugh should be a slam-dunk for coach of the year awards this season for the quick work he's done in turning around a rudderless 49ers organization.
But you have to flip a coin between him and his brother John in Baltimore. The Ravens have been a force annually in the AFC North under John Harbaugh. Imagine if the family has a reunion in Super Bowl XLVI. It will be a terrific storyline.
1. Bill Belichick: I don't know how you can put anyone else No. 1 here, even if Tom Coughlin did outcoach him head-to-head in a Super Bowl. His track record is simply better than any coach in this era.
2. Tom Coughlin: I've never been a huge fan, but I can't deny the man can flat-out coach, and he's survived in a pressure-packed environment.
3. John Harbaugh: The only coach in the NFL who has won a playoff game each of the last four years. If he wins a Super Bowl, he might win a bunch of them. Right now, that's the only thing pushing him down the list.
4. Jim Harbaugh: He's done a remarkable job remaking the 49ers franchise. He's only going to get better.