Immediately following San Francisco's comeback win over Detroit on Sunday, the dominant story wasn't that the 49ers had improved their record to 4-1 by handing the resurgent Lions their first loss of the season. Instead, the talk of the NFL on Sunday and Monday was all about the near-fight that ensued after an awkward postgame handshake between 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
Having just seen his team close out a stirring come-from-behind win, Harbaugh was jumping up and down as he began to take the field. The rookie coach who came to the NFL by way of Stanford was storming the gridiron with an exuberance not far removed from the college game where he established himself. When the buoyant Harbaugh met Schwartz on the field for the customary postgame handshake, the victorious coach delivered a hard handshake and a firm slap on the back, all of which lasted about three seconds. Harbaugh kept on running toward the locker room, unaware of Schwartz's disgust with what had just happened. Schwartz then chased him down and got in his face, forcing staff members from both teams to separate the two.
Of course, once both coaches began their postgame press conferences, reporters immediately asked for them to tell their sides of the story.
(WATCH POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCES AT THE BOTTOM)
"I went to congratulate coach Harbaugh and got shoved out of the way. I didn't expect an obscenity at that point, so it was a surprise to me at the end of the game," Schwartz said. "Obviously when you win a game like that, you're excited and things like that, but I think there's a protocol that goes with this league."
While Schwartz took a not-quite veiled shot at Harbaugh's collegiate pedigree, the 49ers coach was quick to acknowledge that he had been over-eager with the handshake.
"I was just really revved up," the former Stanford coach said with a smile (much like his brother John, who laughed about the incident when he heard the news). "That's totally on me. I shook his hand too hard. I really went in and it was a strong, kind of a slap grab handshake."
Despite admitting he may not have followed proper handshake etiquette, Harbaugh was making it clear that he would not apologize for being so amped up after the win, even if his behavior offended his counterpart on the other sideline.
"To see your guys go out and perform that way, yeah, you do get emotional. It fires me up. It fires me up a lot," Harbaugh said. "I'm not going to apologize for that. If that offends you or anyone else, so be it."
Did Harbaugh show up Schwartz with the hard handshake and back slap? Or did Schwartz simply overreact?