San Francisco 49ers: Pete Carroll

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh completed the Ice Bucket Challenge to fight ALS prior to Friday's practice, as did some local media members.

Harbaugh also challenged President Barack Obama and his predecesor, George W. Bush.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll challenged the three other head coaches in the NFC West -- Arizona's Bruce Arians and St. Louis’ Jeff Fisher accepted. Harbaugh, though, said he was answering the challenge of his brother, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

As for Carroll's challenge, Harbaugh said this: "I've got another challenge with him. I think you know what one that is: The big one."
The Seattle Seahawks have followed their first Super Bowl-winning season with a brilliant offseason.

The Seahawks secured key cogs -- cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas -- with contract extension, as well as adding to coach Pete Carroll's deal. That’s what elite teams do. They keep their own. They don’t let the players most responsible for success get away.

The San Francisco 49ers -- arguably the NFL’s second-best team behind the NFC West rival Seahawks -- realize this. San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke preaches the virtue of “keeping your own” nearly every time he speaks publicly.

Now that the Seahawks have done so much fine work securing their own, it should serve as motivation to the 49ers to get their own work done -- and there’s plenty to do.

The two biggest deals facing the 49ers are quarterback Colin Kaepernick and coach Jim Harbaugh. The two are major reasons the 49ers are an elite team and why there is so much hope for the future. Kaepernick is entering the final year of his deal and Harbaugh has two seasons remaining.

The 49ers, who also soon have to address deals for receiver Michael Crabtree, guard Mike Iupati and pass-rusher Aldon Smith, have talked to both men about new deals. No extensions appear imminent, but they are certainly on the horizon. The 49ers have no choice. They must get these deals done at some point to maintain their level of excellence.

If they ever lose that vision, all they have to do is look up at the Seahawks and see what they are doing with an eye on the future.
How does Pete Carroll’s extension in Seattle affect Jim Harbaugh's status with the San Francisco 49ers?

Not much.

Carroll was going into his final season and has won a Super Bowl. Giving him an extension was a non-brainer for Seattle ownership. Harbaugh has two seasons left on his deal and has not won a Super Bowl, so it’s a bit more complicated.

It has been well documented that the 49ers want to give Harbaugh a contract and will continue to work toward one. Perhaps Carroll’s deal ignites talks, but there is no other noticeable impact.

In other 49ers’ notes:

The National Football Post reports the 49ers are bringing in Georgia State receiver Albert Wilson for a pre-draft visit. He is a productive, small-school player who could be a mid-to-low round pick.

According to fivethirtyeight.com, the 49ers rank near the top of the NFL in fan interest.

Here’s an NFL Nation look at where running back Chris Johnson could land. I’d be surprised if the 49ers were players.
Jim HarbaughChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesJim Harbaugh has reached the NFC title game in each of his three seasons, so why would the 49ers look elsewhere?

Coach Jim Harbaugh's situation in San Francisco has been one of the most talked-about stories in the league in recent weeks.

If a resolution on his contract isn't reached, it will likely hover over the franchise all season and would be a major story next January, when Harbaugh could leave the team, although Harbaugh told Sports Illustrated this week he is happy with all aspects of his job and doesn’t see any way he will leave the team before the end of his contract. Still, getting the contract done would ease a lot of issues.

We all know the backdrop: Harbaugh has led the 49ers to the NFC title game in all three of his seasons as coach. He got them to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season. He is entering the fourth year of a five-year contract that pays him $5 million per year. Harbaugh and the 49ers have been in discussion about a new deal for about a year, but are not close to an extension. Team owner Jed York recently told the Sacramento Bee he thinks contract talks will resume after the NFL draft in early May.

Things got interesting when the Cleveland Browns pursued a trade for Harbaugh. The 49ers were not interested, but that could change next year.

There have been rampant reports that Harbaugh has had trouble with some in the 49ers' front office, including general manager Trent Baalke. York, Harbaugh and Baalke have long downplayed the friction, indicating that they can coexist.

However, there is enough smoke here to think this situation go could south if a contract isn't agreed upon this year. Let's look at some issues that may be part of this story as it further develops:

The history: While it would be stunning to see the 49ers-Harbaugh marriage disintegrate after such a stellar start, similar breakups have happened before.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones
AP Photo/Ron HeflinJim Harbaugh would not be the first successful coach to leave during a team's prime. Jimmy Johnson left the Cowboys after winning two Super Bowls because of fighting with owner Jerry Jones.
After winning two straight Super Bowls, Jimmy Johnson famously left the Cowboys in 1994 after fighting with owner Jerry Jones. Following the 1998 season, Mike Holmgren shocked the NFL when he left quarterback Brett Favre and a Green Bay Packers team in its prime after a seven-year run that included a Super Bowl win. Holmgren left for more power and much more money in Seattle. In 2002, the Raiders traded coach Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay for a massive amount of draft picks. The Raiders were burned as Gruden led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win against Oakland in his first season. In 2007, the Chargers sided with general manager A.J. Smith in his feud with coach Marty Schottenheimer even though the Chargers went 14-2 the season before.

If Harbaugh leaves the 49ers, it wouldn't be the first time a coach and team split despite success.

The highest-paid coaches: Harbaugh told Sports Illustrated he is not unhappy with his pay, but the man is underpaid considering his massive NFL success. Nine of the 32 NFL coaches in 2013 made at least $7 million. Only five of them had won a Super Bowl.

I'd think it has to bother Harbaugh that Chip Kelly earned $6.5 million in his first NFL season and NFC West rival Jeff Fisher made $7 million in St. Louis. Coaches' salaries are at a premium and, by NFL standards, Harbaugh is underpaid.

The best coaches without power: He is hypercompetitive and likes to be in control. So, Harbaugh probably isn't always thrilled to defer personnel decisions to Baalke. But I don't sense Harbaugh wanting to be the general manager and making every decision as he said. He is a coach.

I don't see this as a deal-breaker.

There are plenty of great NFL coaches who don't have total power, including Harbaugh's brother, John, in Baltimore. There's also Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh and Pete Carroll in Seattle. So, a lack of total power in the NFL really isn't a big deal anymore for coaches.

[+] EnlargeDavid Shaw
AP Photo/Matt YorkWould Stanford coach David Shaw be a candidate to follow Jim Harbaugh again?
Where could Harbaugh land? Harbaugh's situation could cause teams to adjust their plans late in the season. I could see many owners prematurely firing a coach to get a shot at Harbaugh if he goes into January unsigned.

But right now, the list of teams that may be making a change next year and may make sense for Harbaugh isn't very long.

Miami and Dallas would be among the biggest suitors. Miami tried to hire Harbaugh before he went to San Francisco. The team has deep pockets, a need for good public relations, and the Dolphins have a good young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Dallas has big bucks and Tony Romo. Harbaugh could like both places.

Other possibilities could include both New York teams and Atlanta (coaching Matt Ryan would surely be intriguing). A potential long shot could be Oakland. Harbaugh was an assistant in Oakland and he could stay in the Bay Area. But the Raiders have to find a quarterback and ownership would have to be willing to shell out financially to make it work. Plus, the 49ers would need to get a haul from the Raiders to trade him to their Bay Area rival.

If I had to give odds on the early favorite, I'd look toward Miami.

Who could replace Harbaugh? It's only logical to think that San Francisco ownership, in the back of its mind, is thinking post-Harbaugh just in case.

The chance of getting draft picks for a coach the 49ers can't come to an agreement with could interest the team next offseason. Also, the idea of front-office peace could be at the forefront as well, especially if things go haywire the rest of this year.

The first place the 49ers would likely look to replace Harbaugh is on the current staff. Because the team has been so successful, I could see the 49ers having interest in staying close to home. Offensive and defensive coordinators Greg Roman and Vic Fangio, respectively, would likely be on the 49ers' list. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is a favorite of the front office. He was a candidate when Harbaugh was hired and his players love him.

Here's another name the 49ers could look at -- David Shaw. He replaced Harbaugh at Stanford. I'm sure he wouldn't be afraid to do it again.

Shaw has been steadfast in his desire to stay at Stanford. But if he were ever to leave for the NFL, this would likely be an appealing situation. He and his family could stay in their house and he'd go to a near perfect NFL situation with a franchise quarterback in Colin Kaepernick.

There is plenty to unfold in this situation in the next several months. Harbaugh and the 49ers could end it all by coming to a contract extension. But as we have realized early this offseason, it's not that simple.

NFLN survey/popular coach: 49ers

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Seattle coach Pete Carroll received the most votes in our NFL Nation anonymous players poll measuring which coach they would most like to play for, receiving 22 percent of the vote.

I can report, likely to much relief to the 49ers faithful, that none of the 10 49ers polled expressed a desire to play for the coach of San Francisco’s biggest rival.

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh did have leaguewide support. He finished eighth with five percent of the vote. I’m not surprised. I think players get a kick out of Harbaugh’s passion. The fact he played in the NFL for more than a decade is also appealing to players.

Justin Smith leading defense

December, 4, 2013
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers defense has been playing at a high level most of the season. It's been dominant the past two weeks and they team has gotten back on the winning track.

A key to the high level of play has been venerable defensive lineman Justin Smith. 49ers' coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday that Smith got a game ball for his efforts against the St. Louis Rams just like he did the previous week against the Washington Redskins.

“It was just his usual good performance,” Harbaugh said of the 34-year-old Smith. “Probably in on nine, 10 tackles, four hurries. Excellent job in the run stopping. He’s playing very good football.”

In other 49ers’ notes:

Most opposing coaches are not sad to be making their final trip to Candlestick Park. It closes after this season. However, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he "loves it." Carroll, a former 49ers’ assistant, is a San Francisco native. He said he used to go to Candlestick Park early before Giants' baseball games as a youth to see Willie Mays warm up.

Harbaugh's high school coach, at nearby Palo Alto High, spent time visiting with Harbaugh and his father Jack prior to practice Wednesday.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday that the team was hoping to reconnect with preseason star quarterback B.J. Daniels. But, naturally, the Seattle Seahawks got in the way.

Daniels
According to several news outlets, the Seahawks claimed the seventh-round pick off waivers, one day after the the 49ers cut Daniels to make room for veteran quarterback John Skelton.

Seattle’s claim is not a surprise. Coach Pete Carroll said last month that the team liked Daniels, and both the 49ers and the Seahawks have made it a sport to poach players from the other’s roster.

The 49ers wanted to keep Daniels in the program. Harbaugh said less than an hour before the claim was made that the team hoped to bring back Daniels to the practice squad.

They cut him in favor of Skelton because they think Skelton's experience can help the 53-man roster more at this point. I get the sense the team thinks Daniels is very much a developmental player and that he’s nowhere close to being ready to help.

I know many fans will be up in arms about losing Daniels, who dazzled in the preseason. But the truth is, he is a long way from being a factor on Sundays.

Final 2013 preseason QB snap counts

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Six projected starting quarterbacks played in their teams' final exhibition games of the 2013 preseason. The Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson and the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick were two of them, and both led touchdown drives before exiting after one series. None of the NFL's projected starters got hurt Thursday night.

The chart shows week-by-week snap counts for quarterbacks I singled out as projected starters heading into preseason. NFC West alums Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn might not start after all, but I've left them in the chart for context.

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher has generally played starters in the final preseason game. He did not this time.

"Typically I have, but I guess in the new world that we’re in, it’s hard to," Fisher told reporters after the Rams' game against Baltimore. "What that implies is that I'm pleased with where they are right now, those guys that sat. They worked hard. We got a great workout and it allowed them to fast-forward their minds to Arizona."

Fisher could have been alluding to the run of higher-profile injuries around the league this summer. Last year, the Rams lost rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers to a high-ankle sprain in the final preseason game.

The Rams emerged from this preseason healthier than their division rivals. That did not stop the 49ers from playing their offensive starters or the Seahawks from playing starters on both sides of the ball Thursday night. The Arizona Cardinals rested most of their starters, though Michael Floyd was one notable exception.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh offered no explanation for playing his starting offense one series. Kaepernick hadn't gotten many snaps through the first three games, however. Getting additional reps for Kaepernick and the team's group of emerging receivers made some sense on the surface.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll went into the final preseason game saying he wanted starters to play because the team values this games as competitive opportunities.

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