Football fans got a one-of-a-kind family story when the NFL schedule makers pitted the 49ers against the Ravens on Thanksgiving night.
Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh? He got ... well, let's just say he doesn't think the league did his team any favors this week.
On Monday, three days before Harbaugh is to match wits with the Ravens' John Harbaugh in the NFL's first game between head-coaching brothers, the ultra-competitive younger brother was a bit huffy about the timing of the HarBowl.
The 49ers will become the first NFL team to travel three time zones to play on Thanksgiving since the Los Angeles Rams beat the Lions 20-0 in Detroit on Nov. 27, 1975. Further, Harbaugh noted, the 49ers will become the first team to travel three time zones to play a Thursday game since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
"As far as the nostalgia of it, I think it's very considerate of the NFL to fly us out there and I can see my brother on Thanksgiving," said Harbaugh, feigning sincerity. "I haven't seen him on Thanksgiving in I don't know how many years. And there's no doubt that we got the short end of the straw on this one."
The short end involves the short turnaround.
The 49ers' 23-7 win over the Cardinals ended at 4:22 p.m. PST on Sunday.
The kickoff for their game at Baltimore is set for 8:29 p.m. EST on Thursday.
That gives Harbaugh and his staff 97 hours and 7 minutes to prepare the team for the Ravens (7-3), who are coming off a 31-24 home victory over the Bengals.
It's not easy to cast a 9-1 team that ranks second in the NFL in point margin (111) as the put-upon underdog, but Harbaugh pulled off that feat effectively Monday.
"They're going to have to use their superhuman powers of recovery this week, and do the best they can," Harbaugh said of his players. "It's a big challenge -- there's no question about it."
Perhaps cognizant of the time crunch, Harbaugh chose brevity when posed questions about the emotions inherent in coaching against his brother and best friend. He described John Harbaugh as "somebody we're trying to beat," and quarterback Alex Smith indicated his head coach was consistent in his message with his players and the media.
"There's been no mention of his brother in regard to this game," Smith said. "It's business as usual, staying with our routine."