Despite the fact Jim Harbaugh’s contract runs through 2015, there’s a strong chance this season will be the head coach’s last coaching the 49ers, according to the San Jose Mercury-News’ Tim Kawakami. Citing NFL sources, Kawakami engages in some educated speculation:
- In terms of Harbaugh staying in San Francisco beyond 2014, Kawakami says, “most knowledgeable folks believe it’s a coin flip” and “Harbaugh and [owner] Jed York might agree with those odds, too — privately — and both are OK with it.”
- General sentiment around the league is Harbaugh and management have set up this season “precisely to decide the future of the relationship.” Either the 49ers will have a successful season, and York will be more than willing to oblige with the “largest coaching contract in football history, something close to $10MM a year) or the 49ers will have a disappointing season, and “things will get muddled.”
- Kawakami states GM Trent Baalke “is decidedly part of the York team” vis-à-vis team brass’s not-so-private power struggle.
- It is unlikely either side will be content with a “lame duck” situation in 2015. Accordingly, a trade is a realistic scenario.
- Speculating about potential landing spots in 2015, Kawakami identifies three prerequisites to accommodate Harbaugh: money, personality fit and a “trusted executive to help him organize and re-configure the roster to his liking.”
- Kawakami says there is one man linked to Harbaugh: Eagles VP of Personnel Tom Gamble, formerly Baalke’s director of player personnel . Harbaugh “knows and likes” Gamble, who has connections to the Raiders and Dolphins, two teams “most likely to be on the Harbaugh Short-List if he should come available next off-season.”
- The Raiders (Al Davis) gave Harbaugh his first coaching job, and tried to lure him to Oakland before he took the 49ers job. Secondly, Gamble was an Al Davis confidante. Thirdly, the Raiders could very well have another poor season under Dennis Allen, who has posted an 8-24 record over two seasons. If the team seeks a “huge name to give the franchise momentum for a new stadium,” Harbaugh loves the Bay Area.
- The Dolphins reportedly offered Harbaugh more money than the 49ers did when Harbaugh was hired in 2011. In fact, Kawakami says, 49ers executives believed Harbaugh was on the verge of going to Miami. Then last January, Gamble was a legitimate candidate for the Dolphins GM job before he decided to remain in Philadelphia, “so it’s not a stretch to think they could be envisioned as a power tandem in 2015.”