Jim Harbaugh was named the NFL's Coach of the Year after turning around the San Francisco 49ers in his first season, but that hasn't given him much breathing room. That's the way he sees it, at least.
"Approaching this combine, I’m very much on edge," he said Thursday. "I’ve always felt like the most improvement you can make is from Year 1 to Year 2, much like a college freshman. The most improvement he can make in an entire one year of college football is going from Year 1 to his sophomore year, like a pro football player going from his rookie season to his second season.
"There’s a window there that will never come again that you have a chance to make your biggest strides. Like going from Game 1 of a season to Game 2. That week is the opportunity to make the most improvement you can make in a one-week span in the entire course of the season."
In some ways, Harbaugh is the consummate insider at this year's pre-draft NFL scouting combine. He coached quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford, and almost persuaded Robert Griffin III to come to the school before that eventual Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback chose Baylor. Harbaugh was also the Colts quarterback who immediately preceded Peyton Manning -- the biggest topic in town -- and almost got the 49ers to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.
He called playing for the Colts "some of the best years of my life."
And, although he didn't specifically voice this, it's safe to say he would endorse the Colts drafting Luck.
"He's got all the qualities, mentally and physically as prepared as anyone you're going to find, that's my opinion," Harbaugh said. "He's got a lot of talent .... He's one of the finest football players I've ever been around. Is that good enough? And an even better person.
"Ever play spades? It's a trump game. He's holding a lot of aces in a lot of suits."