The brothers who followed in their dad Jack's footsteps into coaching have taken different paths to getting here. It started early, back when John and Jim, just 15 months apart in age, shared a bedroom growing up, comparing every kind of feat and accomplishment, competitive every step of the way.
Even though John was older, Jim was the better athlete, and got all the spoils that went with that. He was the quarterback at Michigan, a starter for three years and an All-American, which automatically made him the biggest man on a big campus. John? He became a defensive back at Miami of Ohio.
Jim was a first-round NFL Draft pick and spent 15 years in the league. John never played a down there.
John hacked his way through the backwaters of the coaching ranks as an assistant, starting at Western Michigan and moving to Morehead State, Cincinnati and Indiana. That sojourn burned up 14 years. Then he became an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he worked with the special teams for nine seasons before being promoted to defensive backs coach for two.
In 2008, 24 years into his career, he finally got a shot to run his own deal with the Ravens, but only after Baltimore was turned down by preferred candidates.
Jim, on the other hand, hooked on as an assistant with the Raiders after he quit playing, when he felt like it. Then, he became the head coach at the University of San Diego, and stayed for three seasons before being named the head coach at Stanford.
It took him five years to accomplish what it had taken John 24 years to achieve. After a few seasons there, pro teams were tripping over one another to land Jim as their coach. He signed with the Niners in 2011.
What does all that mean?
It means the fates owe John Harbaugh. It means John's Ravens will own Jim's 49ers. Those brotherly scales must be evened out. And the leveling comes Sunday night in a game big enough to make everything right.
Beyond that, Baltimore comes into this game as the hottest team going. What San Francisco has done is admirable and all, but the Ravens beat Peyton and the Broncos on their own field, and then beat Tom and the Patriots on their own field. Nobody does that to Bill Belichick's team. Except the Ravens.
Colin Kaepernick is a nice story, but it ends at the hands of Joe Flacco, a quarterback who has been building to this moment for five years. If you're sick of all those quarterbacks who chip away at defenses with boring underneath passes, Flacco is your guy, an old-school QB who loves to throw the ball downfield. When the Ravens turned the game over to him in the second half of the AFC title game, he delivered.
He'll do the same against the 49ers.
Although Baltimore's defense finished in the middle third of the league against the pass and the run, it is a bit healthier now. Still, Ray Lewis, love him or hate him, buy his shtick or don't buy it, his teammates apparently do. They'll be inspired in his last game.
The Ravens will win this Super Bowl, for all the reasons mentioned and for one more: Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem "The Raven," from which Baltimore took its name, because the writer lived, died and is buried in the city, was published 168 years ago this very week. Go ahead and mess with Poe's macabre legacy if you will. I won't.
Ravens 31, 49ers 28.
Gordon Monson hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.