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Harbaugh brothers try again for a Super Bowl first

By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - A year after becoming the first brothers to face each other as NFL head coaches, John and Jim Harbaugh are once again one win away from taking their sibling rivalry to new heights in the Super Bowl.

John's Baltimore Ravens play the New England Patriots for the AFC title while Jim's San Francisco 49ers play Atlanta for the NFC crown and wins by each would turn the Super Bowl into a family affair.

The Ravens coach has already made his weekly phone call to the 49ers coach, this time touching on the explosiveness of the Patriots, who were beaten 41-34 by San Francisco at Gillette Stadium last month after coming back from a 28-point deficit.

"We have a little bit," John Harbaugh told reporters at a news conference on Monday when asked about discussing New England. "We probably will some more."

Details were not made available under the cloak of family secrets.

"I can't tell you," John Harbaugh said. "He has so much respect for them. In all honestly, what is there to say? There's nothing really that they have that we don't have.

"There aren't any revelations there. Tough place to play - great, great team. You get a lead, it's going to be tough to hold onto it. I think we may have mentioned that once or twice," he said with a laugh.

It is no secret that coaching is in their blood as the Harbaugh brothers grew up watching their father, Jack, operate as a football coach in a 41-year career from the high school level up through the college ranks.

John Harbaugh, the elder brother by 15 months, went straight into coaching after his days as a defensive back at Miami University (Ohio), and eventually graduated from special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles into the Ravens top job.

Jim Harbaugh went from University of Michigan quarterback to a 15-year NFL career that took him from the Chicago Bears to Indianapolis, Baltimore, San Diego and Carolina.

He moved from the head coaching position at Stanford University, where he guided 2012 top NFL draft pick Andrew Luck, into the 49ers job, following a path taken by former San Francisco coach Bill Walsh.

Jim clearly picked up his unbridled energy and optimism from his father, paying tribute to him at the 2006 news conference announcing his hiring at Stanford.

"I vow I will attack this endeavor with enthusiasm unknown to mankind," Jim Harbaugh said, echoing the parting words his father delivered to the boys each day before dropping them off at school.

Asked how his team would prepare for the Falcons and the hostile environment of the Georgia Dome, the Niners' coach said: "We are just going to plow ahead with our focus ... and then go out and compete like maniacs."

The brothers, who shared a bedroom for close to 18 years, remain close.

"It's a pretty cool thing," John said about a possible Harbaugh Bowl in New Orleans for the NFL title. I'm very proud of Jim."

Said Jim: "I'm proud of my brother and what he's accomplished and proud of our guys for being in the position they're in and ready to forge ahead."

Jack Harbaugh and his wife, Jackie, watched their sons win their respective NFL playoff games and in an embarrassment of weekend TV riches also saw son-in-law Tom Crean coach the University of Indiana basketball team to a win over Minnesota in their TV room in the basement of their Wisconsin home.

"He was excited," Jim Harbaugh said about the phone chat with his father after the games.

"My parents are in their 70s. That's a lot of excitement. That's a lot of action. That's like going back-to-back-to-back like three ‘24' episodes in a row," he said in reference to the TV series. "It's not easy."

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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