SANTA CLARA -- Jim Harbaugh took a quick break from his Super Bowl XLVII preparations Friday morning to glean insight from a Super Bowl-winning coach via the radio waves.
"What advice can you give me as first-time coach going to the Super Bowl?" Harbaugh asked John Madden, the Bay Area native and Hall of Famer who hosts a daily segment on KCBS.
"You're a heck of a lot better coach than I ever was," Madden answered.
"Bullcrap. Bullcrap," Harbaugh responded.
"No, no. No bullcrap," said Madden. "The job you've done there, and I say this when you're not on (the radio), is one of the all-time great coaching jobs."
Madden, in a later interview with the Bay Area News Group, picked Harbaugh to win Feb. 3 in New Orleans. Jim Harbaugh's 49ers, that is, rather than brother John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens.
"I think the 49ers are going to win," Madden said. "But I've watched the Ravens, and they win because they're tough. The reason the 49ers are going to win is I think they can match their toughness."
Madden coached the Raiders to their first Super Bowl championship, a 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI in January 1977. After his 10-year coaching career, Madden embarked on an award-filled broadcasting career, and he retired four years ago after calling the Pittsburgh Steelers' win in Super Bowl XLIII.
Madden wasn't expecting Harbaugh for an on-air chat Friday, but Harbaugh seized the opportunity to jot down Madden's pearls of wisdom about Super Bowl preparations.
"I just know the team that complains the most usually loses," Madden told him. "The other thing I know is you haven't done anything yet. The team that celebrates having gotten there the most usually loses a little focus."
Harbaugh shared those clues with the 49ers after Friday morning's practice, especially the part about complaints.
"I thought it was really good insight, something I've never heard before," Harbaugh told the media. "Some people could say, 'What's there to complain about? You're in the Super Bowl.' I know where he's coming from."
Madden won't be going to New Orleans to watch the Super Bowl, and neither will another championship-winning coach whom Harbaugh has sought out for counsel: Tony La Russa.
La Russa, who retired in 2011 after winning his third World Series, downplayed any insights he's given Harbaugh. They've developed a friendship through occasional phone calls and text messages, as well as during Harbaugh's visit to La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation event in Walnut Creek on Jan. 4.
"When things are going good is when coaches and staff have their team's respect and trust," La Russa said by phone Friday. "You don't need anybody like me interfering. He's had that team's trust from Day 1."
While La Russa said he appreciates their occasional talks, Harbaugh declined to divulge the nature of the most recent one.
"Tony doesn't quite like that when I do that," Harbaugh said. "He has a great amount of humility, but he's been a very valuable resource and asset to me, and I really appreciate it."
Harbaugh never reached a Super Bowl in his 15-year playing career. He did go in his first season as an NFL coach, when he was an offensive assistant who learned "a lot about football" with the 2002 Raiders, who lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Exactly 24 hours earlier, Harbaugh's older brother John, the Ravens' coach, made his own off-the-wall call. Identifying himself as "John from Baltimore," the older Harbaugh brother pulled a prank during a national-media conference call with his parents, Jack and Jackie, and sister Joani.
John Harbaugh asked if it was true the parents liked Jim more, eliciting a pregnant pause before the parents figured out it was their oldest son.
In a later segment on KCBS, Madden said of Jim Harbaugh: "You know what he's going through and where he is and what it means. This is really whatever he's done before or going to do after, this is going to be one of the biggest things in his life.
"When you talk about memories and great times, he's living it right now. You talk about a game and the meaning of it. This game means so much, and it means so much only if you win it."