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Jon Gruden: Jim Harbaugh an outstanding NFL coach

Though Alex Boone's flip-flop on Jim Harbaugh elicited chuckles in the Bay Area -- Boone (pictured) told HBO’s "Real Sports" in a show that aired Tuesday that Harbaugh "kind of wore out his welcome" after defending him to the hilt last fall -- the comments more or less drew raised eyebrows nationally.

Mostly because the book is already out on Harbaugh, who does bring immediate success to whichever program hires him, though seemingly at a price. Michigan, beware?

ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden, on a conference call this week, was asked about the San Francisco 49ers right guard’s quotes on Harbaugh.

"I try not to get into Alex Boone's comments because I haven't heard any of them," Gruden said. "I think Harbaugh has proven he's a very good coach at the NFL level. How are we going to dispute that?

"I don't know what Alex Boone is trying to do with this, but if you ask me, I think Harbaugh has proven he's an outstanding NFL coach."

Gruden and Harbaugh never worked on the same coaching staff. The closest they got was Harbaugh beginning his NFL coaching career as the Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach in 2002, the season after Gruden was traded by Al Davis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They were, however, on opposite sidelines for Super Bowl XXXVII, when Gruden’s Buccaneers beat the Raiders, 48-21.

And when Gruden coached his last game in the NFL, in 2008, Harbaugh was finishing his second season at Stanford.

"Very few men in the history of the game get to three straight NFC Championship games," Gruden said of Harbaugh, who did just that following the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons and played in Super Bowl XLVII. "So I think that speaks for itself."