In what was the game of the week–according to my standards, at least–the Niners pulled off the upset after holding off Matt Stafford and the Lions' offense late in the game. Head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Niners came away with a 15-9 victory to improve to 5-1 and retain first place in the West; Detroit suffered its first loss of the 2011 season.
But what happened after the game between the two head coaches, Harbaugh and Detroit's Jim Schwartz, has overshadowed San Fran's accomplishment on the field.
After the final whistle had blown, and the two teams met at midfield for the traditional handshake, Harbaugh could be seen jumping up and down with joy as Schwartz slowly walked up to Harbaugh. As he was jumping up and down excitedly, Harbaugh stopped momentarily to shake his opposition's hand but may have shaken it a little too hard. Boo-hoo.
Amid the excitement, it also appeared that he may have shoved Schwartz out of the way after the handshake, though I really think it was just a pat on the back. This, of course being the NFL with a bunch of millionaires with nothing else to do, ended up being blown way out of proportion. Schwartz had some words for Harbaugh as he walked away, causing Harbaugh to follow him and exchange a few more words–expletives included in both men's vocabulary.
Before you know it, the players were in the middle of the two attempting to break them up. No shoves or punches were thrown, thank goodness, that would have been a site to see. Two middle-aged men going at it on the football field. But there will be fines coming their way this week, nonetheless.
I'd like to think the cause of the scuffle was the fact that Schwartz was unhappy with the way Harbaugh handled himself midfield at game's end, and both men pretty much said the same thing in their post-game press conferences. But an article written by Yahoo's! Chris Chase makes me believe there could be a deeper cause here.
The article pretty much states a case that Harbaugh could have celebrated that way just to get Schwartz back for the words he had for him and the rest of his coaching staff–during the game–after they attempted to challenge a play that was unchallengeable by the coaches...there's a video included with the article I linked above.
Either way, both men were wrong and were equally responsible for this post-game blow-up. But, if I had to choose sides (not that it really matters what I think of the situation) I would have to side with Jim Harbaugh. He was excited about the win, and why shouldn't he be, he just beat an undefeated team on the road. Maybe Schwartz should put some big boy pants on and accept the fact that his team wasn't the better team that day.
It wasn't the most classy way of acting I've ever seen, but maybe Schwartz shouldn't have acted that way during the game and thrown expletives at Harbaugh and his staff? What goes around comes around, Mr. Schwartz.
Is a coaching rivalry a brewing? I doubt either one will forget what happened on October 16, 2011.