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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Does Elway's hiring in Denver affect 49ers?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The San Francisco 49ers' 55-10 shellacking of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV came at John Elway's expense.

Might Elway's recent hiring as the Broncos' executive vice president threaten the 49ers' efforts to replace Mike Singletary?

It's a relevant question in the NFC West amid reports that the Broncos and 49ers both have interest in hiring Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. That interest has been qualified with language such as "expected to" in some cases. Facts remain elusive, but Elway was on the Stanford sideline as an honorary captain when Harbaugh led the Cardinal to victory in the Orange Bowl.

The 49ers are interviewing Oakland Raiders assistant Hue Jackson, as promised, Wednesday morning. Their interest in Jackson might have moved up the timing of Tom Cable's firing as the Raiders' coach, provided Oakland has interest in naming Jackson its next head coach.

For the 49ers, hiring Harbaugh would generate excitement based on his success at Stanford. The team might be able to offer more personnel authority to Harbaugh than the Broncos could offer given how both teams are structured. Elway casts a longer shadow than the 49ers' understated new general manager, Trent Baalke.

One potential concern: The 49ers would have a first-time NFL head coach and first-time general manager reporting to a 29-year-old team president. San Francisco and Denver are also paying millions to former head coaches. How eager would they be to make Harbaugh one of the higher-paid coaches in the league?