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San Francisco won't repeat last season's greatness - Grantland

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But even if Harbaugh's every bit as good as I think he is, it wouldn't be a surprise to see his team slip in 2012. I put Harbaugh in a class with two other head coaches tactically, and they each had a similar fall. Bill Belichick followed a 5-11 debut season with the Patriots by leading New England to a stunning 11-win season, one that ended with a Super Bowl win. The year after, Belichick's team went through a disappointing 9-7 campaign that saw them miss the playoffs. Sean Payton's Saints, meanwhile, pulled off their stunning 10-6 NFC South win during Payton's debut season with the team, one that ended in the NFC championship game. After that season, they retreated to 7-9 and spent two years in the wild before winning the Super Bowl in 2009. It's not like Payton was a terrible coach for those two years, either. This year, coaches will adjust a bit to Harbaugh. His bag of tricks — the sneaky offsides move, the unexpected onside kicks — won't work quite as well. The 2012 49ers can simultaneously have a great coach and still be disappointing.


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