Jim Harbaugh’s new contract could include more power

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Even as the 49ers make a late-season push that could carry them back to the Super Bowl, everything isn’t completely perfect.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News shines a light on what he calls “creative tensions” between coach Jim Harbaugh and G.M. Trent Baalke.  With Harbaugh, who doesn’t have final say over the roster, due to get a new contract after the season, Harbaugh could be trying to parlay his success into more control over the team.

Kawakami points to a couple of recent incidents as proof of a potential problem.  With fullback Bruce Miller out, Harbaugh publicly declared the team would bring back Owen Marecic.  And Marecic wasn’t brought back.  (Kawami, citing an unnamed source, says that Marecic chose not to come.)  Also, Harbaugh’s open plea for kicker Phil Dawson to return next year was seen by Kawakami as a message to Baalke.

Kawakami attributes some of the push and pull between Harbaugh and Baalke to the placement of “two alpha dogs” in the same environment for three years.  But Kawakami reports that the relationship has indeed changed between the two men over nearly three years of working together.

Evidence of potential friction could come not only from Harbaugh wanting guys who aren’t signed but from Harbaugh not using players already on the roster.  (Receiver A.J. Jenkins, a first-round pick in 2012, was mainly ignored by Harbaugh until Jenkins was traded.)  Or from Harbaugh using a guy more than expected.  Kawakami reports that Baalke and CEO Jed York believed linebacker Aldon Smith would play only sparingly two days after a DUI arrest; Harbaugh used Smith for all 72 defensive snaps.

Problems haven’t emerged between the two men, but a winning program helps smooth any rough edges.  Winning also has given Harbaugh the leverage to try to get that which he reportedly didn’t request when he got the job in 2011 — control over the composition of the roster.

The mere fact that these details of the Harbaugh-Baalke relationship have emerged in the wake of news that the University of Texas wants Harbaugh and that the 49ers plan to give him a new contract after the season suggests that Harbaugh or someone close to him already is laying the foundation to get more than money when it’s time to get that new contract.

59 responses to “Jim Harbaugh’s new contract could include more power

  1. Will be interesting to see how this plays out. Surely the fact that this roster was stocked with talent for years and underperformed before Harbaugh arrived will weigh heavily in the discussions. They let Harbaugh walk, they may as well hand Carroll the keys to the division… if he doesn’t already own them outright, that is.

  2. Florio, we all know your man crush on Seattle and hatred for the Niners, but Harbaugh isn’t going anywhere. Seattle and San Francisco is a great rivalry and I hope that they play one more time this year.

  3. Using your comments to the media in an attempt to pressure your own GM into doing something is super-classy and Shanahanesque.

    Harbaugh has a screw loose.

  4. I’m not saying this to be coy or rub anything into the faces of other fans, but stories like this and reading about the triubles with Jerry Jones and Snyder-Shannahan and watching Marty Schottenheimer’s story yesterday really have me thinking: Ravens fans should thank their respective deities, lucky stars, or whatever, that this kind of dysfunction does not plague our Organization. It’s a testament to the maturity and wisdom of Bisciotti, Newsome, Decosta, Harbaugh, Cass, Moriarity and Team that there aren’t headlines like this. It’s a TEAM game through-and-through.

  5. Great.

    Just when you didn’t think that Jim Harbaugh could get any whinier, he outdoes himself.

    Wait for him to whine and whine when someone he wanted on his team signs elsewhere

  6. James Harbaugh=epitome of WHINE. His success will ultimately pale to the glare of his whine. Strange how brother John got the class gene and Jimmyboy the whine gene. Same parents. Go figure

  7. touchdownroddywhite, the Seaawks are going to own this division for the next 5 years whether Harbaugh walks or not.

  8. Well whoever is making the roster decisions needs to go, because this team had a mountain of draft picks and they failed to capitalize on it or use it maintain power and control in future drafts. This GM is holding them back from being easily the #1 best team in the NFL. I would fire the GM in any event. If Harbaugh wants to be responsible for that then they should consider giving him the GM power if they want to keep him as a HC for a long time. I’d rather take chances on him being the GM than the last guy, because the last guy is just NOT an option. He has to go.

  9. All of the Harbaugh’s are alike. John would love to seize control in Baltimore as well, but as long as the Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome is there it will NEVER happen and he knows it.

  10. Jim Harbaugh is jealous of John Harbaugh’s Superbowl ring. Don’t mean a thing if you don’t got that ring!

    #ravensrepeat
    #joeflaccosuperbowlmvp

  11. More power = more Kleenex for his constant whining problem. I bet his dad never wanted to be home, Jim & John cried all day long. Two biggest babies in history of coaching. Once is a forty whiner, other is a prison warden.

  12. Tim has a reputation for stirring the pot. Ever think that AJ Jenkins never saw the field because he’s not that good? It’s not like he’s setting the world on fire in KC.

    The GM was largely responsible for getting Harbaugh in the first place, and given the track record of success – it’s foolish to suggest that the relationship has soured.

    Sure, he wanted to bring in a back up FB – who the team did not draft – a player which has yet to play any meaningful snaps in his short career. How about considering the back up FB could already be on the roster? (Anthony Dixon has been in the system since Jim arrived).

    I’ll be honest when i say that the 2012 draft was largely a swing-and-a-miss; but Trent’s track record speaks for itself. I’m sure all coaches would like to have more control of the roster but that shouldn’t suggest any potential rift. Love them or hate them, this Front Office is amongst the league’s best, given their propensity to manage the talent they have, their Cap space and skilled personnel.

    Harbaugh never interfere’s with the defense, and for the most part leaves the offense to GRo; if he wanted to – he could meddle with those areas; but doesn’t.

    By all accounts – Trent and Jim are workaholics, and are very enthusiastic in their approach to the game. Please point out any successful tandem that NEVER disagree’s from time to time.

    Bottom line – they produce results, and seem to respect, value and trust one another. Tim just wants to make headlines.

  13. There is no SF/Seattle sports rivalry as such. Just ugly hate from both sides in equal amounts. The old Seahawk/Raiders rivalry was the real deal and a lot of fun.

  14. swu32733 says:
    Dec 18, 2013 9:28 AM
    There is no SF/Seattle sports rivalry as such. Just ugly hate from both sides in equal amounts. The old Seahawk/Raiders rivalry was the real deal and a lot of fun.
    *******************
    Yeah I miss that one… was indeed fun.

  15. I just don’t understand why coaches can’t simply coach, and GMs just acquire talent…

    And in the case of DAL and WAS, why the owners can’t simply own.

  16. I think he has earned the opportunity to have more control over the roster. He turned around two college teams in a big way, and nobody can argue against his success in SF.

  17. Jim is whiny but still a decent coach. I have no idea if there is a genuine rift or if this another media-fueled exaggeration.

    But it NEVER is a good thing for a coach to be given GM powers.

  18. They could bring in the Dali Lama as GM and Harbaugh would have “creative tensions” with him as well. Just in his nature to be an abrasive, whining, no-it-all.

  19. Sounds like a few lame examples for an excuse to write about tension at the top between two guys who seem to work well together and have built one of the most successful NFL teams, turning around a team in just a year with an NFC and Super Bowl run, and coming in strong into late December.

  20. There is no story here. Baalke has whiffed on a couple of picks but also made some very solid picks. Harbaugh, as a former player, knows who has the right stuff to put on the field.

    The only thing interesting here is the incredible amount of Harbaugh hate. It’s kind of amazing really. If you really take a look at the NFL, you can find a couple dozen coaches who complain just as much if not more than Harbaugh does about all sorts of things. They get together every year for a meeting and bring their grievances to the NFL brass. The Hawks fans around here don’t seem to have noticed that Pete Carroll runs up and down the sideline complaining to officials just as much as Harbaugh does. I suspect that most of the fans here hating on Harbaugh would actually be very happy to see him coaching their teams. He’s one of the most successful and effective coaches in the league and nobody with any brains would argue with that.

  21. thestrategyexpert says: Dec 18, 2013 9:06 AM

    Well whoever is making the roster decisions needs to go, because this team had a mountain of draft picks and they failed to capitalize on it or use it maintain power and control in future drafts. This GM is holding them back from being easily the #1 best team in the NFL. I would fire the GM in any event. If Harbaugh wants to be responsible for that then they should consider giving him the GM power if they want to keep him as a HC for a long time. I’d rather take chances on him being the GM than the last guy, because the last guy is just NOT an option. He has to go.
    ————————————–
    Everyone knew going into this years draft they wouldn’t be able to hold onto some of the draft pics they had since their roster is stacked. On top of that they have 12 picks next year. Two 2nds and two 3rds plus their first round pic. On top of that Baalke is signing young key players to long term contracts. Holding them back hardly. Then there’s the fact that most coaches given GM duties fail miserably. Please.

  22. 34 regular seasons in his first 3 seasons…pay the man. 9 mill times 5 years. The new stadium needs stability of a good coach.

  23. For all the comments about Harbaugh “whining” and crybaby and whatever, please note Harbaugh is extremely smart.
    As is, coaches are overworked, taking on additional responsibilites is not a recipe for sanity.
    Harbaugh definitely has a say, even in the draft (Kap), but it is always good to have separation of responsibilities.
    Harbaugh is definitely smart enough to know that.

  24. The difference between last year and this year is that this year, the 49ers have had more than their fair share of injuries. Last year, we had very, very few significant injuries. Say what you want, but injuries and absences for key players makes a huge difference in the success to your team.

  25. Harbaugh and his offensive staff are underachieving with this roster. If it were to come down to it I would rather keep Baalke than Harbaugh. Winning or not, Jim’s act has gotten old already. I don’t think this story was manufactured, Colin Cowherd mentioned last week that Harbaugh tends to wear people down. He might be a guy that can’t stay in one place too long. I’ll take the long-term stability of sticking with the elite talent evaluator.

  26. rjg427 says:
    Dec 18, 2013 9:13 AM

    “They want you to cook the dinner; at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries. Okay?”
    **********
    It’ll be interesting to see if he can buy the right groceries.

    This team was fairly loaded before he got there.

  27. thestrategyexpert says:

    Well whoever is making the roster decisions needs to go, because this team had a mountain of draft picks and they failed to capitalize on it or use it maintain power and control in future drafts. This GM is holding them back from being easily the #1 best team in the NFL.

    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Are you kidding? Let’s look at their draft this last year:

    1st round – Eric Reid has a good shot of being defensive rookie of the year. He’s been fantastic!

    2nd round – Tank Carradine would have been a top 10 pick if he hadn’t torn his ACL. They basically let him red shirt most of this year. He’s on the 53 man roster now, and he’s looked really good.

    2nd round – Vance McDonald has been a solid TE.

    3rd round – Corey Lemonier is a great OLB. He just happens to be part of a linebacking core with 3-4 pro bowlers. He’s an amazing edge rusher. Long term he’s got a shot to replace Ahmad Brooks on the left side. But for now he’s one heck of a backup!

    4th round – Quinton Patton. Injured for most of the year. Jury is still out.

    4th round – Getting Marcus Lattimore in the 4th round was arguably the biggest steal in the draft! He’d be top 5 if he wasn’t coming off an ACL injury (you’ve all seen the video). So he’s taking this year really slow. And he very well could be a long-term replacement for Frank Gore.

    I’ll stop there. And currently they have 13 picks in the 2014 draft. They’ll be able to pick up some more quality players again.

  28. One person simply doesn’t have the time to be both head coach and GM. There are too many players in the league and too many decision scenarios to know or comtemplate for the same person to also run practice, manage players, scheme plays, and then also coach on Sundays.

    That’s why so few coach/GM combinations succeed in any professional sports. Too many disparate tasks for one person to do, much less focus enough to do well.

  29. He’s a good coach but the list of guys who excel at both coaching and personnel matters is very short. Every coach wants to run the entire team, but very few actually succeed doing it.

  30. Now, let’s see if Harbaugh does the right thing with this additional power – draft a quarterback that can win him a super bowl. Cuz it ain’t happenin with Kaepernick.

  31. Harbaugh=GREAT COACH
    non niner fan=HATER. Just because he’s coaching the niners and not their team all I hear is he whines. So ignorant. Get over it people !!!!!

  32. Titans fan here, and I’ll just say that we still haven’t recovered from the years Jeff Fisher had “more power”. Not saying that’s what would necessarily happen to Harbaugh/San Fran, but I think giving too much control to the HC is generally a bad idea.

  33. touchdownroddywhite says:
    Dec 18, 2013 8:12 AM

    Will be interesting to see how this plays out. Surely the fact that this roster was stocked with talent for years and underperformed before Harbaugh arrived will weigh heavily in the discussions. They let Harbaugh walk, they may as well hand Carroll the keys to the division… if he doesn’t already own them outright, that is.

    ***********************
    Jim Harbaugh with the 49ers is 4-2 against Pete Carroll’s Seahawks and Pete has yet to win a game at SF.
    But, yes, you are correct, Petey owns the Niners.

  34. If there is one thing that is synonymous with the ’11-’13 49er drafts, it’s all-pros…er pro bowlers…er starters…er backups…er starters for other teams…er….sigh

  35. As a Hawks fan I’d prefer JH to stay as the HC at SF.. as stated by another poster I like his track record against SEA…. The Hawks pretty much have SF’s number. Yes, they lost in SF by 2, big deal, statiscally for us it makes sense for JH to stay. Hey, maybe 49er fans can put up a billboard asking him to stay! with 5 Superbowl trophies on it that he and the rest of the current team had nothing to do with! awesome idea!

  36. Why does everyone think harbaugh whines so much, you guys act like coaches love bad calls against their own teams. But I do knowharbaugh wins a lot.

  37. So much hate towards Harbaugh, the funny thing is that if wasn’t a good coach or you guys werent jealous none of you would care about how much he whine. SMH. haters!!!!

  38. If Harbaugh is available as a HC, I’d like to see how many of the whiny posters here would jump at the prospect of him coaching their favorite team.

  39. The “whining”, “tantrums” and “toxic” behavior all lead to a 34-10-1 career record, a well balanced team, a happy locker room and a trip to the Super Bowl.

    Find me a better coach.

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