SANTA CLARA (AP) — John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens are off to the worst start in franchise history after beginning with high hopes of another postseason run. San Francisco is experiencing its own turmoil, and the 49ers haven’t been this bad since right before departed coach Jim Harbaugh took over in 2011.
And to think, these two struggling 1-4 teams played in the Super Bowl just more than three years ago.
Jim Harbaugh, John’s little brother, is now leading Michigan after San Francisco let him go as last season ended and then promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
“I told the guys with a lot of confidence, ‘I know we have the players to do the job,’” John Harbaugh said. “It’s not like we haven’t been competing in games and we haven’t had a chance to win every single one of these games. We’ve been our own worst enemy.”
The scrutinized Niners have lost four straight but are encouraged by some progress in last week’s late 30-27 road loss to the New York Giants.
“It’s on everybody to really count out all the extra noise,” left guard Alex Boone said. “People are going to say what they’re going to say. That’s fine, but at the end of the day we have to believe in ourselves and as a team we’ve got to know what we’re worth.”
Here are some things to watch for as Baltimore makes its second trip in less than a month to the Bay Area, where the Ravens lost 37-33 to Oakland on Sept. 20:
HARBAUGH PRIDE: John Harbaugh has little time to be motivated by his brother’s hasty departure from the 49ers nearly 10 months ago.
The Harbaugh family is ultra-close, and beating the team that got rid of his brother after three straight trips to the NFC title game and a Super Bowl berth would certainly be sweet.
“There’s too much to worry about and too much to prepare for,” Harbaugh said. “Life moves on. Jim loved his time there, he loved the players, loved the fans, loved being a 49er. They had four great years and everybody moves on to the next thing in life.”
FAMILIAR FACES: 49ers wideouts Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith played for the winning Ravens on that Super Bowl team that beat San Francisco 34-31 after the 2012 season. Other than those two, there are only a handful of remaining players on either side who were in the Super Bowl.
Boldin and Smith combined on 399 catches for 6,236 yards and 44 touchdowns while with the Ravens. Boldin had six catches for 104 yards and a TD in the Super Bowl win. That season, Smith caught a team-high eight touchdown passes.
Only six 49ers Super Bowl starters are still around: quarterback Colin Kaepernick, tight end Vernon Davis, left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Alex Boone, and linebackers Ahmad Brooks and NaVorro Bowman.
“It definitely is a major change from what it was just a short time ago,” Harbaugh said.
KAP ON TRACK? Kaepernick looked more like himself against the Giants, and the Niners are counting on their leader to get on track.
After throwing five interceptions over his previous two games, Kaepernick didn’t have a pick.
“He didn’t seem fazed at all,” Boone said. “He was the old Colin, he was laughing and having fun. That’s the guy we need him to be.”
In the Super Bowl season, San Francisco was one of three teams in the NFL to have the same five starting offensive linemen every game, but that new-look unit has been inconsistent.
WRIGHT CHOICE: Cornerback Shareece Wright signed with Baltimore on Tuesday after being inactive the first four games this year with the 49ers and asking for his release.
He ran through his first practice Wednesday and hoped to make his Ravens debut against his former team.
“I’m a believer everything happens for a reason,” he said.
Wright chose the Ravens over Seattle in part because he’s known Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith since they were in high school.
“I’m 100 percent sure he came here because of me,” Smith said.
UP TO SPEED: The Ravens running game is starting to come together, as Justin Forsett has topped the 100-yard mark in two straight games.
Although Forsett is nursing a sore right ankle, the offensive line is eager to block for anybody.
“We came out slow the first game (73 yards rushing at Denver), and ever since then it’s been kind of like us trying to catch back up and be where we’re supposed to be,” guard Kelechi Osemele said.
Left tackle Eugene Monroe’s return last week helped, too. He missed the previous three games with a concussion.