Since 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh puts no stock in anything unnamed sources say, here’s an interesting tidbit from an unnamed source.
If Harbaugh wants to leave to become the head coach at the University of Texas, the 49ers wouldn’t stop him.
While Harbaugh privately, we’re told, has told the 49ers he has no interest in the Texas job, Harbaugh dodged questions about the vacancy on Thursday, saying instead that he “absolutely” wants to remain with the 49ers.
But if he doesn’t — if he wants to take the Texas job or any other college job — the 49ers won’t get in the way. The position comes from both Harbaugh’s contract, which apparently doesn’t prevent him from taking a college job, and certain nuances of California labor law, which at a minimum would entail a protracted legal fight over whether the 49ers can force Harbaugh to remain on the job.
The deeper point is that the 49ers won’t let outside interest in Harbaugh at the NCAA level result in a series of Saban-style extensions, with more and more money going to Harbaugh to keep him from leaving. The 49ers intend to give Harbaugh a healthy raise as part of an eventual extension, but the motivation won’t be fear of Harbaugh wanting to go to Texas or any other college job.
The 49ers believe Harbaugh wants to stay. They intend to reward him for his accomplishments over the last three years, and for his anticipated results going forward. If he decides to leave, however, they’ll move on — like every team routinely does at a variety of on-field and off-field positions, every offseason.