If/when Harbaugh wants out, 49ers likely won’t stop him

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The onion that became an Onion-style headline on Friday has plenty of layers, both looking backward and looking forward.

As the 49ers and coach Jim Harbaugh try to find a way to continue to thrive amid some degree of dysfunction, there’s one important point to keep in mind:  If Harbaugh ever decides he truly wants out, the 49ers won’t force him to stay.

We first developed a clear sense that the Niners wouldn’t compel Harbaugh to stick around after his name emerged as a candidate for the University of Texas job last season.  If Harbaugh had wanted to leave for Austin, the 49ers would have wished him well.

At the time, it didn’t appear that same mentality would apply to another NFL team.  However, if Harbaugh jumps to another NFL team, the 49ers can get compensation in the form of draft picks and/or money.

Sharing our belief that the 49ers wouldn’t keep Harbaugh from leaving if he wants to leave is Mike Silver of NFL.com, who is “convinced” that if Harbaugh had wanted to leave for Cleveland, the 49ers wouldn’t have blocked it.

As a result, things can get very interesting as 2014 unfolds.  Barring a long-term, big-money deal that binds the Niners and Harbaugh together beyond the next two season, other teams will inevitably call the 49ers after the season ends, if not sooner.

Whether it’s the Dolphins (whose owner made a push for Harbaugh several years ago) or the Jets or the Browns (again) or the Raiders (for whom Harbaugh could work without moving), owners with coaches who will be inching toward the hot seat in 2014 could be warming up to the idea of making a run at Harbaugh.

The ceiling/floor for compensation will be set by whatever the Browns were willing to send to the 49ers for Harbaugh.  For now, all we know is that Cleveland was ready to give multiple picks to the 49ers and that, per Adam Schefter of ESPN, a first-round selection was not involved.

119 responses to “If/when Harbaugh wants out, 49ers likely won’t stop him

  1. A first round pick would naturally be reserved for a trade of a coach that actually won a superbowl…

  2. Why would anyone offer a first rounder? I’m thinking his 225-press is at about 5, his 40 time is awful, and lord knows his Wonderlic needs a lot of help.

  3. Lost in all this is the GM that picked that 49er roster while Singletary was coaching… Harbaugh is a good coach, but he inherited a good roster in SF and that won’t happen again…

  4. Mark Davis needs to open up his check book. The Teflon Denny Allen amateur hour needs to come to an end……

  5. I grew up as a Saints fan when they were still in the NFC west. When Jim Mora was the Saints coach we played the 49ers twice a year. Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lot, Fred Dean and this list goes on. Niner fans just so you’ll know, these ain’t the 9ers of old.

  6. That just stuns me… Let’s be honest guys. Some of us may hate Harbaugh and the 49ers, but the guy is worth a first-round pick. He’s worth at least two! The idea that Cleveland could get him for so much less is stunning.

  7. Seahawks 12-4
    Rams 11-5
    Cards 10-6
    49ers 7-9

    Don’t worry Niner fans, the NFCW will still have three playoff teams next year, one conference champion, and one Super Bowl Champion.

  8. This is starting to remind me of the way Jimmy Johnson left Dallas, the acrimony between the coach and ownership will continue to build until the inevitable divorce…

  9. I agree. SF would be dumb to let him go anywhere. Do you remember how things were there before he got there. i would be locking him up for many years to come

  10. I could see him leaving: Pete Carroll has managed to do what he can’t do: win a Super Bowl…Good riddance, and don’t let the doorknob hit you in the a… on your way out…

  11. As a Raider fan, I was really hoping this trade would go through. All the tears generated from the Harbaugh worshippers here in the Bay Area would put an end to our current drought in California.

  12. Never been a fan of blowhard Harbaugh, but he has done a heck of a job in his time in SF. If he leaves, odds are there would be plenty of regret to go around within a year or two. Coaches who can produce similar results are hardly a dime a dozen.

  13. SF is spoiled. The guy takes you to three consecutive 11-win seasons, 2 division titles, 3 NFCCG’s, SB XLVII, and is a poor throw by Kaepernick from SB XLVIII and you wouldn’t put up a fight to get rid of him? You know Tampa Bay, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Houston, Miami, Washington, Buffalo, and Jacksonville would KILL to have someone with that resume.

  14. No one in their right mind wants to go to Cleveland even if the coach doesn’t get along with the owner or GM. Put up with the ’49 ers management and smile all the way to the bank.

  15. Jim Harbaugh is a fraud. He took a loaded roster that Nolan/Singletary heavily underachieved with and made them respectable, nothing more. Of the 49ers league leading 8 (EIGHT!) Pro Bowlers, exactly 0 were acquired by Harbaugh.

  16. I don’t care for Harbaugh, as a person, but I think he could bring my Raiders back to relevance as a coach.

  17. Pete Carroll devised a gameplan that dominated the best offense of all time and one of the greatest QBs of all time having a record shattering season.

    Jim Harbaugh…let an average QB like Joe Flacco win Super Bowl MVP and is directly responsible for him signing that obscene 120.6 million dollar contract.

  18. Won’t STOP him!! Folks will be able to hear the champagne corks from Niner’s front office popping all over Northern CA. It’s really a troubling thing when uniquely talented people can’t get out of their own way due to personalities that render them unable to work cooperatively and maturely with others. He reminds me of baseball’s Billy Martin, a fixer-upper who would zoom in, attain great results, however behaved crazily and wore out the entire organization, as well as his welcome within four years. I don’t think Harbaugh is quite as far gone as Billy, as Martin was also an alcoholic, but there are similarities behaviorally as well as career-arch-wise. He must be COMPLETELY impossible to work with for SF to allow such a fine coach go so easily.

  19. You know, if he had stuck with Alex Smith as a game managing qb (I think he threw for 400+ passing yrds, 50+ rushing yards, 4 td’s.. zero int’s – his last game or something… nothing great, didn’t win :S)…

    He might be breaking records for coaching contracts as a 2x SB champion right now… instead of chuck away Charlie Kp.

    Oh wait, he plays the Seahawks 3x a year…

  20. Should they keep him, yes. IF he wants to stay. But also, shouldn’t he also be putting the effort to stay? Where’s he gonna go that’s as good or better? All those places have coaches. They’re both being equally stubborn/stupid.

  21. 1st – Tampa gave up a 1st round pick for Gruden and he didn’t have a SB ring yet.

    All the stories of Harbaugh’s history have said he is difficult to get along with – but a winner. But sometimes it is just too hard on the organization to try to keep 1 guy happy – some guys can never be made happy.

    So the best thing an organization can do is keep it real clear that no 1 person is indispensable. If someone is unhappy, they are free to leave. The organization will move on.

    Either that person realizes they have a good thing and they get along better with others OR they leave. It is their choice.

    The ball is in Harbaugh’s court – be a team player like you preach, or take your ball and play elsewhere like a child.

    Don’t get me wrong – it is a huge risk to lose him, not many that talented and so able to win in this league. But you also can’t have 1 person causing so much stress in the organization that it becomes dysfunctional – then everyone loses pretty soon.

    Don’t forget – Eddie D and Bill Walsh almost parted ways after every season it seemed. Both guys were pretty head-strong. It wasn’t a marriage full of candles and cuddles – but they made it work and won!

  22. This is not really a surprise. Anyone who knew Jim Harbaugh as a player knew that he was not particularly well liked because of his personality. His team put up with him, because he had a little bit of “it.” But frankly the guy is a d-bag.

    His brother John got all the class and Jim got the athletic ability.

    He won’t go to the Browns as long as John coaches the Ravens. Bank on that one.

    But for anyone who knew him as a player or just watches him on the field will understand why he wears himself thin and quickly.

    He would be much better in college where he can run everything the way he wants and basically has no one to answer to as long as he wins.

  23. He has taken the 49ers far but wants promise land money. The fact that the team will not give him that and is not afraid to lose him shows that they don’t
    believe they can get past Seattle during Harbaugh’s tenure.

    Since the team is so willing to let him walk, then he should do just that at the end of his contract with no compensation picks for the 49ers.

    Why reward a team so willing to dump you.

  24. He has accrued a heck of a resume in the last 3 years. Everybody seems focused on that and how several teams would love to have him. The flip side is despite that resume SF seems willing to get rid of him by any means short of actually firing him. What does that say about Harbaugh or 49ers management. Somebody in that mix is a world-class idiot or tool.

  25. Why does Harbaugh have to be such a lunatic? He is a proof that you first have to be a good human being to be successful, and not a psycho lunatic that go jive turkey jive gobble gobble gobble….

  26. Say, this just popped into my mind…do any of you folks think JH has ALREADY finished his last game as head coach of SF? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this occurred, nor would it shock me to learn the front office already has his replacement on the coaching staff at this very minute. What do you think?

  27. If I were a 49ers fan I would be praying to whatever god you worship that this impass can be hammered out and hugged out. Love him or hate him for his over the top emotions, the bottom line is that this man drug you from mediocrity to relevance. That is a feat that only 5-10 men on this PLANET are capable of doing.

  28. I mean really what a chump. Only getting a last place team to 3 straight NFC championship games as well as a superbowl.
    End of the line. Haha

  29. The 49ers would be right back to losing.

    He changed the way he made Alex smith play better

    I understand not wanting to pay him 10 mill

    He’s making 5 now. And has made so much money for them plus helped u get the new stadium look better by having 3 straight great seasons
    If u not happy where u work then force a trade or honor ur contract then leave two yrs left.

    Oakland would snap him up in a heart beat. They have a good def. and their off would need fix. They remind me of 49ers before Jim got to 49ers

  30. Dude is a D head and a pompous A…that being said, I would push Rex to the airport in a wheelbarrrow and carry Harbie from JFK to metlife on my back.

  31. Anyone who thinks this is the same as Jerry Jones running Jimmy Johnson out of town is an idiot. Johnson constructed the nucleus of a MULTIPLE Super Bowl winner. Jim Harbaugh inherited an excellent, underachieving team loaded with talent and depth, and has failed to win the Super Bowl in 3 straight seasons where he’s been outcoached in their final game.

  32. As a Rams fan I couldn’t be happier. I also am looking forward to the ‘Hawks upcoming cap issues, but I have a feeling the Seahawks front office and Carroll will keep chugging along. The truth is the 49ers recent drafts have been less than impressive and once Harbaugh leaves, they’ll fall apart. He’s just crazy enough for the players to love him, and just crazy enough for executives to despise him.

  33. After going through Denny Green, Mike Tice, Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier I’d have to say you’ve gotta be incredibly stupid to think you can do better than Jim Harbaugh.

    Remember when the 9ers were the laughing stock of the league for the better part of a decade? Do you really want to go back to that in a brand new stadium???

  34. He inherited a STACKED roster that underachieved under two horrible coaches. He deserves credit for getting them to play to their potential. Any other place he goes to will likely not have anywhere near the talent he inherited.(Detroit–maybe)

  35. I don’t care what he’s accomplished or how he’s done it, he’s just plain toxic and the 49er’s would be smart to get rid of him. If you put just about ANY other coach in charge of the line-up he inherited, they’d have done a whole lot more than get close to the Lombardi. As a Seahawks fan, I hope they keep him for life.

  36. You know what, I bet this whole thing blows over and he gets a new deal. He is just an intense guy, so he is intense about everything, including negotiating a new contract. That is just his style. He doesn’t do anything halfway. He’s throwing a stink about his new contract and so the 49ers are saying if you have a better offer, then go ahead and take it. Fact is they are both better off with eachother.

    This reminds me of being in a relationship with a dramatic person. Stuff gets said and done that make you think it is the end, then it all blows over until the next crisis.

    Any team that hires Jim Harbaugh is going to have to expect that. He is an intense guy and he’s volatile. That is not changing no matter what you pay him.

  37. I don’t care what he’s accomplished or how he’s done it, he’s just plain toxic and the 49er’s would be smart to get rid of him. If you put just about ANY other coach in charge of the line-up he inherited, they’d have done a whole lot more than get close to the Lombardi. As a Seahawks fan, I hope they keep him for life

    That is a lot of talk for a team that has had about 3 good seasons in its history.

  38. What’s behind the family spat? I’m thinking it’s
    Kap, Harbaugh’s choice to start not Madam
    Frisco’s, ne’e DeBartolo ( sister to the ex-con Eddie, previous owner). If true, S.F. has in effect Jerry Jones’ sister as an owner not Eddie’s. If true, this inevitable divorce between HC and owner is strikingly similar ( just not quite as stupid) as Jimmy J and Dallas last century. A SB appearance, two division titles, multiple playoff games and she wants him gone. Jerry must feel vindicated after all these years. “I told you I wasn’t crazy”.

  39. Does he come with an ultra healthy team that never has any major injuries?

    Does he come with All Pro Linebackers/D-line and O-line?

    Cause if not, I’d pass on him.

  40. I know that Harbaugh seems to be a royal pain, but now you see the 49ers’ true colors. They think they are geniuses.

    That stadium has gotten to the FO’s heads.

  41. I think it’s fair to argue that it could be a good business decision to pay a team a low round draft pick in exchange for taking the last year of Harbaugh liability off of their hands. Obviously York doesn’t see Harbaugh as overpaid so the price of multiple picks perhaps was just not enough for whatever level he does value Harbaugh at. To me though any combination of multiple picks would clearly have been well past the breakeven point of it making sense to trade him, any material at all is just a bonus while freeing up the opportunity to figure out what the long term HC situation is going to be which is something they have to deal with anyhow. And to pay the level of money that Harbaugh is expecting just doesn’t compute as an option, and even more so now knowing that the cost also includes a verifiable opportunity cost of multiple picks that York knows about. Sounds like York chickened out from a heck of a great deal that was on the table.

  42. SF is dysfunctional, but I certainly wouldn’t find MIA, CLE, NYJ, or OAK appealing options either.

  43. The SF FO should ask themselves one question, and until they come up with a realistic answer, proceed no further. They should ask (themselves), “Who could we get at Head Coach who has done for this team, what Jim Harbaugh has done?”

    Don’t tell me about him not having gotten any of the current players. With many of those selfsame current players, the Niners stunk before Harbaugh came to Candlestick.

    I’m a loooong time Hawks fan who remembers life before Harbaugh. The NFCW has become the dominant division in the league. Niners-Hawks are the best games all year.

    Obviously, I don’t want to see Coach Harbaugh leave the Divisional Family.

  44. Sure Baalke gave him good talent but ask the Bucs what a good team on paper is with out a good coach. Is he really that bad behind the curtains they are willing to let him leave despite the fact he has been to three nfccg and narrowly has missed making it to the SB every year in his FIRST THREE YEARS AS AN NFL COACH. Let him leave let’s see who needs who more.

  45. If he goes anywhere, it’s Oakland. After his contract expires that is. Hey Captain Comeback, it’s time to come back to Oakland!

  46. 49ers would be fools to let Harbaugh walk. Love him or hate him, he’s a proven winner. If I had to choose, Id send Balke on his way. The 2012 draft was a joke. The 2013 draft was just average. His only claim to fame was 2011. You have to give a coach the players he wants, not the players you want him to have. Id easily give Harbaugh 7 mil+ a year to stick around. Balke is a mediocre talent evaluator at best, AJ Jenkins ??? Get outta here with that.

  47. camdenyard..the Raven’s got the right Harbaugh? yeah sure…they won the SB, gave Flacco a big new contract, asked Boldin to take a pay cut, and then didn’t even make the playoffs last year. Great coach and GM.

  48. I think this is much ado about nothing. I don’t see him going to coach college football again. But if some NFL team is willing to pony up a lot more money than SF does now…well that is another matter. I can see it now…a brand new (expensive) stadium and the team drops to a .500 team under a new head coach. I wonder if fans will pack the stands then.

  49. I am waiting for Baalke and the owner to let him go and then try explaining to the fans why the team spent over a billion $$ on their new stadium but can’t seem to get past .500 let alone make the playoffs. Should make for entertaining reading.

  50. I wonder why non of his players have yet to come out with a statement regarding the report. Is it possible even the players have been alienated.

  51. No idea what Harbaugh does that people find distasteful. He raves like any other coach on the sideline except stoned Peacenik Pete. He’s a Midwest boy,he loves football,nothing wrong with that. Might be a west coast thing where everyone should be laid back. I’m sure the Browns would’ve made him the highest paid coach in the L. San Fran might want to hold on to the guy,the players seem to enjoy him and play hard for him. Hiring a new coach may backfire on you.bBesides,the dude wears Dockers,apparently he’s not getting enough to cover his uniform expenses lol

  52. Just a matter of time. Does it happen during the season, before or after. That’s really the only question. If the dysfunction starts showing in the win-loss column it could be much sooner than later. Hard to fire a winning coach and if Harbaugh truly wanted out he already had multiple chances. Looks like it is up to Baalke. He could bring back Mike Singletary, that worked out real well for them didn’t it.

  53. I am not a Jim Harbaugh fan but I have seen a few post that mention he is a fraud because he inherited his players from a team put together by the previous coaching staff. If those same guys were not winning before him but are now coming off 3 NFC Championship games and 1 Super Bowl; that would seem to me like a sign of a good coach. I would consider his brother more of a fraud as he showed last season he cant win without certain players(Lewis, Reed,Boldin) leading the team.

  54. america hates success. This guy needs to bail now. Nothing like seeing your job being shopped by your company. of course I am sure it is better to stay, get fired and collect the hefty severance.

    I would like to see him go to a perennial loser…miami, oakland, minneapolis and make them into a world beater.

  55. I think I speak for all of us 49er fans when I say we should bring back Mike Singletary. There was a lot more unity here between management and coaching.

  56. He is under contract for TWO more years on a 5 year deal. This whole situation is being forced by Jim to get a new contract ahead of time. If Jim thinks he needs a new deal why not give Kaepernick a new deal early ? Hypocrite

  57. This is why Boldin is holding out.
    Pete Carroll is gonna get the biggest extension ever makin Harbuagh more upset

  58. This guy will be out of the league inside of 10 yrs. He’ll jump from SF. Piss off another organization after about 3 or 4. He’ll sit and “change” then piss off the last organization.

    And each stop will be with a worse team so his coaching creds will drop with his rep.

  59. The horrible Browns trying to save face by saying they put effort to get Harbaugh. ( Haslam”can we look at your assistant coaches? Oh by the way we will give you some draft picks for Harbaugh!” Jed York”What are you nuts!?”

    Now the media is jumping on this because there is nothing else to talk about…sure Harbaugh and Baalke might not be best friends, but I highly doubt he is going anywhere let alone the Browns or Dolphins lol.

    Time to pay the man the NFL is making Billions and everyone wants a piece of the pie! It doesn’t count against the cap so who cares.

  60. Bleatcher Report is saying that it was Harbaugh that brought the subject up when Cleveland contacted him about his assistant coaches…….

  61. His ego is poison to the organization. Good coach
    but it is not about him. It is about the team.
    He did well at USD and Stanford, if he wants all
    that money let him buy the team. He will never
    be a team player his ego is just too much.

  62. The fact that they’re so sick of his drama-queen azz and childish temper-tantrums that they’re willing to let him go, despite all the success on the field, says a lot more about Harbaugh than it does about the 49ers.

  63. York fired Mariucchi just as the Niners were getting competitive again after years in the doldrums, and hired Dennis Erickson….. sending the Niners back into the doldrums for a decade.

    So now the Yorks are getting fed up with Harbaugh. It seems they just can’t tolerate success….. maybe because successful coaches aren’t willing to roll over and play dead.

    Gee…..I wonder if Dennis Erickson would be willing to come back out of retirement and try to improve on his 9-23 Niner record?

  64. Roman, Mangini and Baalke will be fired after this season when the 49ers don’t get to the SB and not even get to the NFCC. Harb might squeeze out a SB in 2015 but he would have to get rid of Roman first. Too bad he doesn’t have the guts to do so like John Harb, whom fired his OC mid season and win the SB 2 seasons ago.

  65. Does this really surprise anyone? He is not the type to stay the same place for 10 years and he does where on his boss’s. He’s already coming into year 4 and I never thought he’d stay past 6. The disfunction is fine while your winning. How many times did Eddie D fire Walsh? About every other day. Its an incredibly successful and volatile union that is not meant to last. And theres about 28 other teams that would take this run Harbaugh has put them on full well knowing it would end as they all do.

  66. I’m not so sure that Harbaugh is the be-all, end-all of coaches. The roster was loaded with talent and just needed any kind of non-moron coach to make it succeed.

  67. here we go again. The York’s have done this before..but I have faith in Jed York..a businessman to pay for the new stadium they will keep harbaugh!no one wants to sit in a new stadium and watch losing football games played by the 9ers..again!!we just got over a thousand years slump!!after the building this beautiful roster we have and let Jim go would be a fatal flaw in the Niners franchise we will be the new Raiders and the Cleveland Browns of the NFL.riddle me this aren’t we hosting the Super Bowl.the idea is to have our team in it..must keep Harbaugh to do so.

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