The San Francisco 49ers, in pulling off a mesmerizing and historic 36-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints, did more than advance to next week’s NFC Championship Game by winning one of the greatest NFL games ever played.
They confirmed that Jim Harbaugh, the head coach whose very essence and presence has transformed this moribund franchise into a force to be reckoned with, is in the midst of the greatest rookie coaching performance in league history.
That’s what the NFL does: It reveals greatness, true greatness, under the ferocious klieg lights of playoff football. And in a game that saw four touchdowns in the final four minutes — one that pitted a high-octane offense against a smash-your-face defense, a rehabilitated quarterback versus one coming off the greatest regular season ever and enough highlight material to fill an hour’s worth of I’ve-got-chills NFL Films specials — it was Harbaugh masterly outfoxing Sean Payton that stood out as the most remarkable performance of the night.
“We move on, and we move on in spectacular fashion,” Harbaugh said afterward. “I can’t remember winning a game in such spectacular fashion as this one.”
Yes, spectacular beyond belief, by him and by his team.