The unfolding Jim Harbaugh saga in San Francisco is a bizarre one considering its timing and its scope. First, let’s start with the timing of it. This story is nearly overshadowing the most captivating football theater at the present moment for those of us starved to satisfy our voracious pigskin appetites: The NFL Scouting Combine.
We’ve been treated to Jadeveon Clowney’s freakishness, Johnny Manziel’s scaled-back bravado, and Michael Sam’s inspiring self-awareness, but in between the 40 times and pressers, it’s been all Harbaugh, all the time. 49ers CEO Jed York denied the initial report over the weekend, then finally admitted to SI’s Peter King that the team had conversations involving Harbaugh with the Browns. When the Browns released the statement on the report, they didn’t exactly go out of their way to deny it. Owner Jimmy Haslam then confirmed it, all the while the thick tension between Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke only continues to germinate at 49ers headquarters.
Harbaugh wants a new contract and he wants it right now. This is just another power play in what could be a protracted tug-of-war over the head coach’s worth. Although Harbaugh wore down Stanford during his time there, he’s the one that made the Cardinal a power. Remember Stanford before he got there? Yeah, me neither. I do remember what it was like before the 49ers landed Harbaugh and it wasn’t pretty.
San Francisco was so far removed from the glory years and it’s model organization distinction. It resorted to hiring the likes of Mike Nolan, Dennis Erickson and Mike Singletary to restore the winning and, well, we all know how that went. The 49ers are getting spoiled with the recent winning under Harbaugh. While I don’t believe he’ll be there long-term given the tenor of the relationship between Harbaugh and Baalke, I do think the team risks alienating it’s best asset. They are moving into a shiny new stadium and having any uncertainty over the head coach’s status is the last PR landmine you want to deal with. Who’s got it better than the 49ers? Nooooobody.