San Francisco 49ers

Tony Romo evaluation helped establish Harbaugh as 'QB Whisperer'

The last time the 49ers played the Cowboys, quarterback Tony Romo suffered a fractured rib and deflated lung. But it was Jim Harbaugh who came away with a mark.

“A deep bruise,” Harbaugh told the Dallas area media Wednesday.

Romo briefly exited the Week 2 game in 2011 following a big hit by Ahmad Brooks. He came back in the fourth quarter with the Cowboys trailing 24-14 and helped engineer a 27-24 win for Dallas in overtime. Romo finished the game 20 of 33 for 345 yards.

“It was most impressive,” Harbaugh said. “I knew he was great. I’ve always thought that of Tony Romo. But he climbed another rung on my ladder of esteem, and I didn’t think he had anymore rungs to go after what I’d seen. But he definitely gained another one that day.”

When he was an assistant with the Raiders in 2003, Harbaugh was tasked with evaluating the quarterbacks entering the draft. His report stood out because it gave a high grade to an obscure passer out of Eastern Illinois – Romo – who would not be drafted, while giving middling grades on more highly touted prospects. Only one of the 13 quarterbacks taken in that draft, the first overall pick, Carson Palmer, is still in the NFL.

“We have great respect for Tony Romo,” Harbaugh said. “We treat him like all the greats of the game that are playing today.”