Sports

Shepkowski: Harbaugh, Belichick Join Elite Company

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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By Nick Shepkowski-

(CBS) — Bill Belichick struggled in Cleveland before eventually getting the head job in New England, helping mold Tom Brady into a legend and becoming one of the most successful coaches the NFL has ever seen. His story is known as he’s been viewed as one of the best at his craft for nearly a decade now.

Jim Harbaugh doesn’t have the same flight miles as Belichick but his resume speaks for itself. His 49ers hadn’t finished above .500 or reached the playoffs in the eight seasons previous to Harbaugh’s arrival. All the former Bears quarterback has done since is turn the 49ers into one of the most feared teams in the entire league on both sides of the football.

Both Belichick and Harbaugh will have many rooting against them this weekend because of their sideline demeanor and handling of the media. But forget about that for a minute though and realize that what these two have accomplished over the last three years had only been accomplished a dozen times in the Super Bowl era previous to them.

Both Belichick’s Patriots and Harbaugh’s 49ers will be playing on Championship Weekend for the third straight year. Twelve other teams have accomplished that feat, which means it’s not necessarily rare, but the list of coaches who have done it is quite impressive. Harbaugh and Belichick are among elite company:

Teams With 3 Or More Straight Conference Title Game Appearances
1. Dallas Cowboys (1970-73) – Tom Landry
2. Miami Dolphins (1971-73) – Don Shula
3. Oakland Raiders (1973-77) – John Madden
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-76) – Chuck Noll
5. Los Angeles Rams (1974-76) – Chuck Knox
6. Dallas Cowboys (1980-82) – Tom Landry
7. San Francisco 49ers (1988-90) – Bill Walsh/George Seifert
8. Buffalo Bills (1990-93) – Marv Levy
9. Dallas Cowboys (1992-95) – Jimmy Johnson/Barry Switzer
10. San Francisco 49ers (1992-94) – George Seifert
11. Green Bay Packers (1995-97) – Mike Holmgren
12. Philadelphia Eagles (2001-04) – Andy Reid
13. New England Patriots (2011-13) – Bill Belichick
14. San Francisco 49ers (2011-13) – Jim Harbaugh