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Monday, October 17, 2011
Hey, at least Harbaugh threw no punches

By Mike Sando

When San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh challenged a first-quarter play that was not subject for review Sunday, cameras caught Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz mouthing what appeared to be, "Know the rules, Harbaugh!"

Good thing Schwartz didn't call Harbaugh a baby or question his toughness, as former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly did back when Harbaugh was playing.

Back then, Harbaugh reportedly tracked down and punched Kelly, suffering a hand injury that sidelined him for weeks. Kelly denied punches were thrown, but clearly something happened.

"I regret throwing the punch, but I felt I had to do something since my toughness was being questioned," Harbaugh said at the time. "I regret that I have a crack in one of my bones in my hand."

The admittedly over-the-top handshake/back slap combo Harbaugh unleashed on Schwartz following the 49ers' 25-19 victory Sunday did not seem particularly calculated, even if it did violate unwritten rules for postgame comportment among competing coaches.

The 49ers' first-year head coach has a certain, uh, competitive zeal, shall we say. Niners fans have to love the guy. He's passionate, bright, capable and leading the team's revival well ahead of any realistic schedule.

Regarding the postgame incident Sunday, I contend Harbaugh handled the situation without sufficient grace, but Schwartz handled it worse -- much worse. Those keeping score should add this Harbaugh encounter to the list Ernest Tolden of ESPN Stats & Information put together.