By BARRY WILNER, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh has won the 2011 Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award for leading the 49ers back to the playoffs.
In his first season as an NFL head coach, Harbaugh guided the 49ers to a 13-3 mark and the NFC West championship game. They beat New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs before losing the conference title game to the Giants.
A former NFL quarterback and successful coach at Stanford, Harbaugh earned 45 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. He easily outdistanced Green Bay's Mike McCarthy, who received three votes, and Denver's John Fox, who got two.
Atlanta's Mike Smith is the last man to win the award in his initial season as an NFL head coach, in 2008.
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