OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Jim Harbaugh likes to say that a player has the best opportunity to improve after his rookie season and before his second.
It's no wonder then that the San Francisco 49ers head coach sees his team as having the most room for growth right here, right now after their 23-3 defeat to the host Baltimore Ravens on Thursday and before their Aug. 17 home opener versus the Denver Broncos.
"Iron sharpens iron. That's what we're looking for, to get better as a football team, especially going from your first game to your second game," Harbaugh said in a joint interview with 49ers.com and Ravens.com on Saturday before the first of the three inter-squad practices. "That stretch of time is the most improvement you can make the entire season."
Neither Harbaugh brother is taking credit for the idea to have the teams share fields and a facility for three days.
But they both addressed whether this unique and valuable situation will become a new family tradition.
"Nobody is really getting out in front of their headlights on this one," Jim Harbaugh said.
"It's on the backburner right now. We'll talk about it next spring and see if it makes sense," the Baltimore coach said. "At some point, we'll get back there. Hopefully, we can do it next year."
Yet another Harbaugh, father Jack, would seem to be all over a semi-annual parternship on the field. He was watching Saturday's session with other members of his family from the sideline.
"It was a great practice," he said, "and to do it so respectfully of each other, I think speaks highly for the players on the team and how they feel about each other."
Jim and John's parents were also present for their sons exhibition battle on Thursday. They had anticipated it would be the least intense of the brotherly battles.
"I thought about that before the game," Jack Harbaugh said. "I thought, 'Wow, this is so much different, not quite the experience you had with the Super Bowl,' and then I thought, 'Gosh, this is football.' I had the same feelings I had before every football game.
"It was good to see the way they played, the confidence they had, both teams. I think it's going to be a good year."