EAST RUTHERFORD, N. J. -- Another day, another fine football coach gazing at skid marks left by the machine that is Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh is the abrasive coach outsiders love to hate, and on Sunday his act and his 49ers drew rave reviews on Broadway.
The New York Jets and coach Rex Ryan were the victims this time, absorbing a 34-0 walloping administered by the 49ers. San Francisco's performance was, like Harbaugh, visibly flawed yet coldly proficient and utterly remorseless.
Ryan, once defined by his bluster, took his turn receiving the blunt end of the lesson so many other coaches -- Pete Carroll and Jim Schwartz in particular -- have learned.
That Harbaugh coaches as he pleases, without regard to their feelings or outside perception.
Before a sellout crowd (79,088) at MetLife Stadium, Harbaugh practically snatched the Jets' script from Ryan's hand and used it to whack the coach upside the head.
Though the 49ers won mostly because their defense vaporized a pitiful Jets offense, they spiked the victory by artfully rotating their quarterbacks in the town that was, according to voluminous reports, supposed to reinvent quarterback rotation.
For all the gallons of ink and the stacks of video utilized to explore the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow dynamic, the New York quarterbacks were upstaged by San Francisco's Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.
Smith was merely adequate, but Kaepernick received the most significant
"This isn't the first week we've given Kaepernick a package," Smith said. "He's had some plays. You just don't know when it's going to get called. This was the week."
The Jets defense, which presumably sees plenty of the wildcat formation during weekly practices, reacted as if this was its first glimpse of a running quarterback.
Asked about utilizing Kaepernick, Harbaugh's terse explanation was that he wanted to find "some creativity."
"It behooves the team when you can get as many guys a role in the game as possible at any position," he added.
It also feels good, if you're Jim Harbaugh, to flick the ear of the opposing coach. It's why during his stay at Stanford he violated the unwritten rule book and ran up the score against Carroll's mighty USC team. It's why he couldn't resist power-pumping Schwartz's hand, followed by a smack to the back, after silencing the Lions in Detroit last season.
After being humbled Sept. 23 in Minnesota, Harbaugh on Sunday sought not just victory but also a measure of vengeance. A statement.
"Even for us, it seems like a big deal," 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said. "This is New York, home of the Jets, home of the Giants. I mean, New York."
Ryan, who built his reputation on hard-hitting defenses in Baltimore and vows to deliver a champion in Gotham, was the picture of humility.
"I can't remember getting beat the way we got beat," he said. "I don't think that's ever happened."
Such a response surely warms the heart of Harbaugh. He deeply respects the game, and all compliments are welcome -- if not embraced.
But Ryan shouldn't take personally this defeat and the way it unfolded. He lost to a better team, to a coach on a mission. More to the point, he was soundly defeated by a coach determined to prove his Kaepernick could beat Ryan's Tebow.
The message: Take your "wildcat" and shove it. I'll ride with my "Kaep."
"We just go out and run plays," Kaepernick said. "We don't have any special name for it."
It would be too catty, and silly, to refer to it as the Ryan Response.
Harbaugh doesn't care what you or I or anybody else cares to call it. He doesn't care what you or I or anybody outside his locker room thinks about his game plan.
With the possible exception of his brother, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Jim Harbaugh is not inclined to consider the feelings of coaches not on the San Francisco payroll.
He will, given the opportunity, expose and embarrass the man on the other sideline. It's not by design. Nor do I believe it is with malicious intention.
It's just that he does ... not ... care. That's his deal. And when he gets an opponent where he wants it, he can leave scars.