This year wasn’t easy when it came to deciding who should receive coach of the year. In a year coming out of a lockout and a shortened training camp, we were not disappointed when it came to the play on the field this season. It was hard to come to a decision on who was worth of being named coach of the year but after much consideration it came to me. Here are three coaches who deserve the award and who I believe is the 2011 coach of the year.

Third runner up

Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans had a great season. He finally got over the hump taking his Texans team to the playoffs and winning the division for the first time in their franchise history. Considering they did it with a Peyton Manningless Colts, it is still an impressive year based on one thing; injuries. Kubiak got 10 wins out of a team that was lacking consistency at almost every position. Early in the year Arian Foster was dealing with a hamstring injury and missed some time. First pick of the franchise Mario Williams was sidelined for the season with a pectoral tear. Starting Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Schaub went out mid-season with a broken foot. Possibly the best wide receiver in the league, Andre Johnson, was plagued with hamstring injuries all season. With all these star players being sidelined, Kubiak was still able to win his division, get home field advantage in the playoffs, acquire 10 wins and get the best out of his players. There is no doubt Kubiak was a great coach this year and deserves to be in the discussion but he just didn’t do enough to land coach of the year.

Second runner up

Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions definitely deserves consideration for the top spot for coach of the year. I went back and forth trying to decide if he should be the winner but this year just wasn’t enough. But he did do some amazing things. The Lions started off 5-0 for the first time in over 50 years. They ended up making their first playoff berth since 1999. After a decade of Matt Millen terrorizing Lions fans, they finally have a team they can be proud of. Schwartz has taken over a 0-16 team and in just three short years turned them into a 10-6 playoff team. Turning around an organization of futility is not the easiest thing to do in today’s NFL but Schwartz has somehow made it a reality. I can tell you fans in Detroit believe he should be coach of the year just for having a winning season. Jim Schwartz may be a coach of the year in the seasons to come but not this year, just making the playoffs and finishing second in the NFC North isn’t enough.

Coach of the year

Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers is the 2011 coach of the year. In his first year on the job he has taken a mediocre 6-10 team to a 13-3 division leader and second seed NFC playoff team. Last year a team packed with talent like Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Patrick Willis really underachieved under coach Mike Singletary. But this year all it took was a great coach to get the best out of that talent. Harbaugh took over with a former first overall pick quarterback who has never seemed to have gotten the hang of playing in the NFL. Alex Smith has struggled in his first few seasons in the NFL but Harbaugh got the best out of him. This year Smith threw for over three thousand yards and 17 touchdowns. Harbaughs defense was nothing less than stunning against the run. They only allowed three rushing touchdowns all season with two of them coming in the last game of the season against the St. Louis Rams. There is no doubt that the success of the 49ers this year was directly related to coach Harbaugh. Jim Harbaugh definitely earned the title as 2011 coach of the year.