Veteran photographer Michael Zagaris recalls the Jim Harbaugh-Jim Schwartz postgame scuffle

If you fast forward to the 0:43 mark of the video above, you’ll see a photographer diligently clutching a 400mm camera amidst a growing swarm of people as 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz exchange heated words following Sunday’s game. That brave soul (clad in a yellow NFL bib and a 49ers cap) is Michael Zagaris, now in his 39th year of photographing 49ers games. Zagaris was hired by SI to shoot the game in advance of the Oct. 24 Inside NFL column on 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, on top of his normal team duties.

“After the game I got a lot of calls from people I hadn’t seen or heard from in a while that wanted in on the circus,” he says. “Things go viral, seem bigger and blow up so much more now. 20 years ago I wouldn’t be getting all the calls and emails because half of those people wouldn’t have seen it.”

Enough people saw the Harbaugh-Schwartz scuffle either live, in postgame highlight shows or on YouTube for it to be the dominant NFL headline on Sunday. And Zagaris was one of only a handful of people to have a front row seat for the fireworks.

“The gun went off and I sprinted full speed for Jim [Harbaugh],” Zagaris says. “He was literally jumping, hopping and twirling around. He was exuberant; I didn’t think he was trying to show Schwartz up. Then I saw Schwartz closing in on him fast, and suddenly there was 10-12 people around us. I was swept along and just tried to stay on my feet.”

Calvin Johnson appears on this week’s national cover of Sports Illustrated; Alabama’s Josh Chapman on a Southeast regional cover

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Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson appears on the national cover of this week’s Oct. 10, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday. In addition, Alabama nosetackle Josh Chapman appears on a regional cover that will appear in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. Below is the last time each team appeared on the cover and how many appearances they’ve had overall.

  • Lions: Nov. 11, 2002 (Joey Harrington); 11th appearance
  • Alabama: Aug. 22, 2011 (Trent Richardson); 19th appearance

An additional regional cover touting our 2011-12 NHL Preview will be revealed later this morning. The pink Sports Illustrated logo on this week’s national cover is in acknowledgement of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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Ten Things You Need to Know from This Week’s Issue: Peter King’s NFL Awards Forecast, the Best Quotes from Training Camp, the Best Tacklers of Today and All Time, The Smartest Players in Baseball and More

You’ve seen the six regional covers for the NFL Preview and read Peter King’s regular and postseason predictions. Here are ten other things you’ll learn from this week’s Sept. 5 issue:

  1. If Peter King’s soothsaying abilities hold true from last year (when he correctly predicted a Steelers–Packers Super Bowl), put your money on Philip Rivers. He’s King’s pick for MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
  2. King is also high on the Lions. Jim Schwartz is his Coach of the Year, and Matthew Stafford is a runner-up for Comeback Player of the Year.
  3. “I’m a winner. I don’t care about stats. I never have. In the first game of the year, if I catch no balls and we win, I’ll be thrilled. If they tell me the game plan is to go out and block the safety in the mouth 60 times and we win, I’ll be thrilled. To me, football’s been about winning and nothing else.” – Falcons WR Julio Jones
  4. Ravens–Steelers might be the fiercest rivalry in the NFL. Want proof? LB Terrell Suggs says his team refers to the Steelers as “that team from Pennsylvania. It’s forbidden to say their name around here. It’s an unspoken word.”
  5. Speaking of the Ravens, Ray Lewis is listed by senior writer Tim Layden as one of the five best tacklers both today and in history.
  6. Among Layden’s list of five best tacklers in history, four are linebackers; among his list of the five best tacklers today, only two are linebackers.
  7. If you’re an okay quarterback but not a great one, the NFL will kick you to the curb. So says senior writer Phil Taylor, who writes, “So, kids, you want to grow up to be an NFL quarterback? A word of advice: Don’t.”
  8. Pirates starting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf is baseball’s smartest player—according to 24% of the 281 MLB players who responded to SI’s survey.
  9. SI’s fans thought differently. On Facebook, fans overwhelmingly voted Derek Jeter as the smartest (37%), followed by Roy Halladay (20%).
  10. Senior writer Lars Anderson says that the seasons of four traditional college football powers—Alabama, Texas, Penn State and Notre Dame—will hinge on who wins their respective quarterback battles.

Read on for more after the break.

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