49ers, Harbaugh must come to accord
February, 21, 2014
By Bill Williamson | ESPN.com
The report that the San Francisco 49ers discussed a deal to send coach Jim Harbaugh to Cleveland for a package of draft picks really doesn't matter anymore.
It didn't happen. It won't happen.
49ers owner Jed York responded on twitter that the Pro Football Talk report is not true.
Whether or not the story is true, this isn't the first time there has been talk of issues between Harbaugh and the team. There have been reports of occasional professional tension between Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke. Contract extension talks have been unsuccessful thus far. The two sides have discussed a deal for a year, yet nothing has happened. Harbaugh enters the fourth year of a five-year deal.
Harbaugh wants top dollar, but the 49ers want to see him win a Super Bowl first.
Harbaugh -- who has led the 49ers to the NFC title game in each of his three seasons as an NFL coach -- was also connected to the University of Texas job late last season. These types of things will continue to happen unless there is a contract extension.
However, I believe this situation will get resolved. Harbaugh and the 49ers can and will co-exist.
The report stated the coach didn't want to leave the 49ers. He knows this is the best place for him. The 49ers have one of the best rosters in the NFL and he loves coaching quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He also knows 26-year-old franchise quarterbacks are rare.
The 49ers, who if Harbaugh did leave would likely strongly consider prompting defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach, also know Harbaugh is special. This five-time Super Bowl-winning franchise was had become all but irrelevant before Harbaugh was hired.
They are moving into a new stadium this year. They want Harbaugh to be part of it for now and the foreseeable future. No matter what a potential trade would have brought, I think the 49ers would have lost.
They don't need more draft picks. They need strong coaching.
The only way of ensuring it is getting an extension for Harbaugh done. If the 49ers can't, this story about a trade with Cleveland will have legs and hover over the team. Undoubtedly, it will create future angst and further stories.
If we get to December and Harbaugh is still months away from his walk year, there will be a lot of teams looking to make a splash in 2015 and ready to make a big trade for Harbaugh.
That will not be good for the franchise. The 49ers have a great thing going and Harbaugh is a big reason why. Getting an extension is the only smart solution to ensure stories like this go away.