NEW ORLEANS — For those looking for the next relative unknown to stamp his mark on a Super Bowl, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh offers a suggestion: Jay Harbaugh.
That's right, for all the talk the past two weeks or so about the Harbaugh brothers, John and 49ers coach Jim, John Harbaugh said Jay Harbaugh just might turn out to be the X factor Sunday.
Jay Harbaugh is Jim's oldest son, but he works for the Ravens as part of their video and strength staffs. He was a coaching intern in the 49ers scouting department for part of 2011, his father's first season with the 49ers.
"I'm appreciative that Jim allowed Jay to come out," John said Friday. "Maybe that will be our edge. Maybe it will be Jay. He's really good. He's a hard-working guy and he's excited about the game and competing."
Working for his uncle and pulling for the Ravens to beat his father's 49ers on Sunday places Jay in an awkward situation. Same goes for Jim Harbaugh.
With that in mind, Jim said he has had limited contact this week, keeping their correspondences to texts that let him know how proud he is of his son.
"I'm really thankful and proud, at the same time, that Jay is doing what he loves to do," Jim said of Jay. "John being there and hiring him, I hear he's doing a phenomenal job."
Jay Harbaugh told the L.A. Times that he doesn't have mixed emotions about competing against his father.
"I couldn't fathom even considering not being all in with the team that I'm a part of," Jay said. "Any true competitor feels the exact same way. You have to be totally all in with your team, sold on the vision. Otherwise, there's no point. No point to being a part of it, putting in all the time that you do and making the sacrifices.
Jim is careful to avoid giving the impression that he and his son might be comparing notes in advance of the game.
"I don't want people thinking I'm talking to him about the game," Jim said. "I've heard he's done a great job and that means the world."
So, for those thinking too hard about identifying the next David Tyree or Jack Squirek, John Harbaugh wants everyone to keep an eye on the role Jay plays in the Ravens game against the 49ers.