Ex-Bears teammates meet as coaches in NFC playoffs

Ex-Bears teammates meet as coaches in NFC playoffs
January 10, 2014, 6:45 pm
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CSN Staff

Though the Bears missed out on this year's postseason, one playoff game this weekend will have quite a Bear-ish feel to it.

Former Bears teammates Ron Rivera and Jim Harbaugh will be squaring off against one another as the respective coaches of the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's NFC divisional-round game in Charlotte.

The two were teammates from 1987 to 1992, playing under Mike Ditka. Rivera's Bears tenure stretches back farther than that, all the way back to 1984, in fact. He was a member of the vaunted 1985 Bears defense that led the team to its only Super Bowl win. He was there again in the team's only other Super Bowl appearance in 2006, serving as defensive coordinator under Lovie Smith. Harbaugh, a quarterback, stuck around a year after the departures of both Ditka and Rivera through the 1993 season until heading to Indianapolis.

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This is Rivera's first playoff game in three years as a head coach. Meanwhile, Harbaugh is coming off a run to last year's Super Bowl, where his 49ers eventually fell to the Baltimore Ravens. Also in his third season, he's already coached in six playoff games, posting a 4-2 record.

Did they learn from Ditka? Perhaps, but at least Harbaugh seems to be off to a much better start than his former head coach. Despite that win in Super Bowl XX, Ditka's playoff resume wasn't very impressive. He finished just 6-6 in 12 postseason games with the Bears, winning just three games outside of the 1986 playoffs.