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Harbaugh brothers take 49ers, Ravens to Super Bowl

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Harbaugh brothers take 49ers, Ravens to Super Bowl

Preparing to coach the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game Sunday night, John Harbaugh watched on the stadium's big video screen as Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their victory in the NFC championship game.

John looked into a nearby TV camera, smiled broadly and said: ``Hey, Jim, congratulations. You did it. You're a great coach. Love you.''

Less than four hours later, the Ravens won, too. Some siblings try to beat each other in backyard games. These guys will do it in the biggest game of all. Yes, get ready for the Brother Bowl.

It'll be Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh when Big Bro John's Ravens play Little Bro Jim's 49ers in the Super Bowl at New Orleans in two weeks.

As much chatter as there will be about the players involved - from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his impending retirement to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's sudden emergence - the Harbaugh family angle will make this coaching matchup the most scrutinized in the nearly half-century of Super Sundays.

The Harbaughs' sister, Joani Crean, wrote in a text to The Associated Press: ``Overwhelmed with pride for John, Jim and their families! They deserve all that has come their way! Team Harbaugh!''

Who's a parent to cheer for?

During the 2011 regular season, the Harbaughs became the only brothers to coach against each other in any NFL game (the Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6 on Thanksgiving Day that year).

Now they'll be squaring off with a championship at stake in a Super Bowl filled with firsts - and one truly significant last.

It will be the first one between coaching brothers, of course. First one for Joe Flacco, the oft-doubted Ravens quarterback with the superb touch on deep balls and a QB-record six postseason road wins. First one for Kaepernick, the second-year player with the tattooed arms, the sprinter's speed, and a shoulder that zips throws like the high school baseball pitcher he used to be.

And it will be the last game for 17-year veteran Lewis, Baltimore's emotional leader and this postseason's top tackler with 44 so far.

``This is our time,'' Lewis pronounced.

He appeared to be on the verge of tears before and after helping Baltimore become the only team in 68 tries to overcome a halftime deficit against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Foxborough, Mass.

The NFC West champion 49ers (13-4-1) open as 5-point favorites, seeking a record-tying sixth Super Bowl title but first since 1995. The franchise of Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young is 5-0 in Super Bowls.

The AFC South champion Ravens (13-6) are headed to their second Super Bowl; Lewis was the MVP when Baltimore beat the New York Giants in 2001.

With Kaepernick's terrific passing - he was 16 of 21 for 233 yards and a touchdown in only his ninth career NFL start - and two TD runs by Frank Gore, San Francisco erased a 17-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 Sunday.

Baltimore then fashioned a comeback of its own by scoring the last 21 points to defeat the New England Patriots 28-13, thanks in large part to Flacco's three second-half touchdown tosses, two to Anquan Boldin.

In the often risk-averse NFL, each Harbaugh made a critical change late in the regular season in a bid to boost his team's postseason chances. Clearly, both moves worked.

After 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, the starter in last season's overtime NFC title game loss to the New York Giants, got a concussion, Jim switched to Kaepernick for Week 11 - and never switched back. Now San Francisco has its first three-game winning streak of the season, at precisely the right time.

Baltimore, meanwhile, was in the midst of a three-game losing streak when John fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and promoted quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell to replace him.

The 50-year-old John is 15 months older than Jim and generally the less demonstrative of the pair, although John certainly did not lack intensity while making his case with officials a couple of times Sunday.

The ever-excitable Jim - who was treated for an irregular heartbeat in November - was up to his usual sideline antics in Atlanta.

He spun around and sent his headset flying when the original call stood after he threw his red challenge flag on a catch by the Falcons. He hopped and yelled at his defense to get off the field after their key fourth-down stop with less than 1 1/2 minutes left. He made an emphatic-as-can-be timeout signal with 13 seconds remaining.

Expect CBS to fill plenty of time during its Super Bowl broadcast with shots of Jim, that trademark red pen dangling in front of his chest, and John, who usually wears a black Ravens hat. Yes, that is sure to be a focal point, until they meet for a postgame handshake.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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AP sports writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report from San Francisco.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Bearded look back for Weddle, and will stay if Ravens keep winning

Bearded look back for Weddle, and will stay if Ravens keep winning

For Ravens safety Eric Weddle, the beard is back.

Weddle was sporting his signature full beard on the first day of training camp, much different than the closely-trimmed look he had in March after signing with the Ravens.

As soon as Weddle cut his beard last winter, he said he regretted it. Now he has recommitted to the beard he has worn most of his nine-year NFL career.

“It’s feeling good,” Weddle said after Thursday’s practice. “I’m just letting it grow. It’s a lot more full this time around, which is nice. I haven’t been wearing a chin strap for the last three months. It’s coming in even. We’ll see where it goes. I might be sporadic and just cut it or I might let it go.”

RELATED: DAY 1 TRAINING CAMP OBSERVATIONS

The Ravens are more interested in how Weddle plays than how he looks. But since minicamps, the three-time Pro Bowl player has been making a strong impression as the new leader of the secondary.

“He looks good back there, he does,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “It does seem seamless, with an “A”. He looks like he knows what he is doing, like he has been playing for a long time, and he is a really smart football player. I would say he is as advertised that way, and it is good for us.”

Ravens fans should be hoping Weddle’s beard is even longer by December.

“If we’re winning, it’s going to there and be full,” Weddle said.

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Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

Five observations from Day 1 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Here are five observations from Day 1 of Ravens’ training camp:

1. Joe Flacco didn’t look like someone who had not practiced since November.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with Flacco’s arm. Early in drills, he effortlessly floated a long pass to rookie Chris Moore on a ball that traveled at least 55 yards in the air. Secondly, Flacco moved well wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee, moving out of the pocket several times without any sign of favoring the injury. It remains to be seen if Flacco feels discomfort after several days of practice, and of course, he is not taking any hits. But this was a good first step.

“It felt really good to be out there,” Flacco said in quotes provided by the team. “I wasn’t as efficient as I’d like to be, but I felt comfortable. I just need to throw it a little better and complete some more passes.”

2. Veteran tight end Ben Watson didn’t have the greatest practice.

The usually sure-handed Watson dropped two passes early. Maybe Watson was nervous in his first practice with Flacco, or maybe he was adjusting to the pace of Flacco’s throws. But Watson will be looking to bounce back quickly, competing for playing time at tight end with Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, and Maxx Williams.

3. The starter at inside linebacker could be rookie Kamalei Correa.

While Correa is taking reps both outside and inside, the Ravens are searching for a starter at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley. If Correa wins the starting job, it means the Ravens’ top two picks, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Correa, could be starters from Week 1.

4. Pitta looks like Pitta, running patterns and making catches.

Fans still love Pitta, and he received a huge ovation whenever he made a catch. Pitta’s attempt to come back from his second major hip injury is a feel-good story and people are rooting for him.  However, a major test for Pitta will come Saturday when the Ravens put on pads for the first time.

5. John Urschel could be the starter at left guard, but he is also taking reps at center.

Urschel is the favorite to replace Kelechi Osemele as the starting left guard. However, Urschel’s best position may be center. If anything happens to starting center Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens could shift Urschel to center and play either Ryan Jensen or rookie Alex Lewis at left guard.

RELATED: STANLEY'S ROOKIE SHOW PERFORMANCE WAS ONE FOR THE AGES

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Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

Ronnie Stanley sings 'Ignition Remix' in chicken suit for his teammates

OWINGS MILLS - When the Ravens drafted left tackle Ronnie Stanley, he never expected to sing in front of teammates wearing a chicken suit.

Welcome to the Ravens, and to the traditional rookie talent contest. Stanley led off this year’s draft class as the first-round pick, and apparently, he was a hit. The chicken suit was courtesy of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who purchased it for Stanley.

Where exactly do you find a chicken suit that fits somebody 6-foot-6, 320 pounds? But Smith found one. If you are a smart rookie, you don’t say no to Steve Smith. That left Stanley with no choice but to perform wearing the suit.

Stanley chose the R. Kelly song “Ignition Remix” for his selection.

“I knew it was crowd pleaser,” Stanley said after Thursday’s practice. “I know every word to the song. That was the song I picked, so I was practicing all throughout this break that we had.”

Under the circumstances, Stanley felt he did well.

 “I actually didn’t know about the chicken suit until yesterday,” Stanley said. “I did what I had to do. I knew since I was going first, I had to set the tone. That was the first time I sang in a chicken suit.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed.

“He did a great job and we had fun,” Harbaugh said. “It’s nice when your first-round pick, kind of the leader of the rookie class, is able to step up and make a statement about that. I can fit in, so to speak.”

No word on if Stanley plans to go on tour after the season.

RELATED: A FEW RAVENS RUNNING BACKS ARE DINGED UP