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ALAMEDA – Jim Harbaugh’s first paid coaching gig was right here in Oakland. The 49ers head coach was the Raiders quarterbacks coach from 2002-03, a period that included several long talks with late owner Al Davis.
Davis’ “Just win, baby” mantra fits Harbaugh’s personality, and the two formed a fast friendship. Davis was a mentor of sorts, and had a significant impact on Harbaugh in a short time. His teachings helped form a coaching philosophy that has brought great success to the University of San Diego, Stanford and the 49ers. More than a decade later, Harbaugh speaks about Al Davis in reverential tones.
“He had a profound, positive effect and outcome on my entire life, both professionally and with my family as well,” Harbaugh said in a conference call. “I’m forever thankful and have much gratitude for the time that I spent there with the organization and working for Mr. Davis.”
Harbaugh didn’t feel a conference call with opposing media was a appropriate time to take a long stroll down memory lane.
“In memory of Mr. Davis, (with) respect for Mr. Davis, that we’re playing the Raiders, it’s about the football game," Harbaugh said. "That’s the way we’ll approach it as well.”
There are plenty of good stories from those days, and Harbaugh went over some last week in an interview with Bay Area News Group’s Cam Inman. It’s certainly worth a read to see how reverential Harbaugh was to Davis and a once-flourishing franchise.