It was the handshake heard around the world.
Last October, just after the 49ers beat the Lions 25-19 at Ford Field, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz met for the customary post-game handshake. It was quick, with Harbaugh still celebrating a comeback win, but it had a second act when Schwartz then ran down Harbaugh, bumped him and a shouting match ensued. It made for quite a scene, leading to a memo from the league reminding coaches that they are not supposed to fight with each other on the field in the moments after the end of a game.
The Lions and 49ers renew acquaintances this Sunday night and, naturally, both coaches were asked about the incident when they met with the media on Monday. As you’d expect, both men did their best to make it a non-issue. Schwartz said that the two men have met “without incident” multiple times in the last year, according to Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News, and that he doesn’t expect one player on either team will be thinking about it. Harbaugh said pretty much the same thing, but, as is his habit, dressed up his answer a little bit.
“Our approach with the mini-controversies is to give them the attention they deserve, which isn’t much,” Harbaugh said, via Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Now people are going to use that to promote this game or any other game are really missing the point. The game is just so much bigger. Just as a rule of thumb, I have too much respect for the men who play this game on both sides to give it anything less than what it deserves.”
The handshake will have no bearing on a game between 1-0 teams, although that won’t have the slightest bearing on how many times we see the video of it in the week to come.