NEW ORLEANS -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh got his start in the NFL as a special teams coordinator. Little did he know, that job prepared him for what lay ahead.
"That was a great training ground to do the job that I'm doing right now," Harbaugh said. "It's been a big plus."
Harbaugh served as the Philadelphia Eagles' special teams coordinator from 1998-2006 before switching to the secondary coach position in 2007 and then joining the Ravens as their head coach in 2008.
During his nine seasons as the Eagles' special teams coordinator, Harbaugh said, he learned how to deal with many types of personalities, players from every position group and the media.
That proved invaluable, as he later learned, when the Ravens hired him to be their coach.
"It's a great place to start as a coach," Harbaugh said of special teams. "It's a great place to be. You have an opportunity to work with every single player on the team."
That job also taught Harbaugh how to gauge the pulse of the team, something that came in handy late this season when he fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
In many ways, such a radical move parallels 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh replacing longtime starting quarterback Alex Smith with second-year player Colin Kaepernick nine games into the season, when the 49ers were 6-2-1.
It's about finding ways to get even better than you are. With that in mind, John Harbaugh felt as if Jim Caldwell was a
"You're always trying to build," Harbaugh said. "It goes back to that word. You're trying to become as good as you can be. We had built something over a course of a long period of time and we were where we were.
"It became kind of obvious and apparent that we needed to shake things up a little bit and go down a little bit of a different road to get to where we needed to go. We needed to change the chemistry and the dynamic a little bit. We did that, and it worked out for us."
Under Caldwell, the Ravens offense is more balanced in terms of how often it runs the ball and passes.