Jim Harbaugh is the master of getting under an opponent's skin. Just ask Jim Schwartz. Or Pete Carroll. Or the little girl he once beaned between the shoulder blades. Nobody takes an opponent off his (or her) game quite like Jim Harbaugh. That's what was going through my mind Monday night when I heard The White Stripes' tune "Seven Nation Army" played multiple times on the Candlestick Park loudspeakers.
Why is that noteworthy, you ask? Because the Ravens, the Steelers' arch enemies, play the same tune incessantly during their games. The song has become the unofficial anthem of M&T Bank Park. During the 49ers game there last month, all it would take was a few notes from the song to get the entire crowd - 71,000 strong - humming along. (see below). The riff still was playing in my head many hours after the game.
So why would the 49ers suddenly adopt the same song the Ravens use? My suspicion was that it was psychological ploy to let the Steelers know that they weren't just battling the 49ers that week -- they were taking on the Ravens, 2-0 vs. Pittsburgh this year, as well. Both Jim and John Harbaugh, Baltimore's coach, openly acknowledged that they talked about the game in the days leading up to it. Jack Harbaugh, who helps both his sons dissect game film, was in Santa Clara all week and was visible on the sidelines before the game. And both Harbaugh boys badly needed the 49ers to beat the Steelers.
Asked about the White Stripes tune this week, Harbaugh said he didn't know anything about it. And it's entirely possible that team officials who attended the Baltimore game simply were impressed by the experience and borrowed from it. But I still have my suspicions...
-- Matt Barrows