What’s a Harbaugh worth?

Here is my Wednesday column on Jim Harbaugh.

Under no circumstances should the 49ers give Jim Harbaugh a contract extension this offseason. Let him play out the final two years of his deal. Or let him win a Super Bowl before giving him a raise.

Apparently, Harbaugh wants to be the highest-paid head coach in the NFL. Hey, so do I, but I don’t deserve to be. Harbaugh doesn’t deserve to be, either, although he is a good coach and I’m just a writer.

Harbaugh fashions himself a quarterback guru, but none of his quarterbacks has been Pro Bowlers during his three seasons coaching the 49ers. That’s a mark against him.

And he hasn’t won a Super Bowl despite coaching the best roster in the league. That’s a bigger mark against him. Everyone concedes the 49ers’ roster has no holes. The only franchise that might have a better roster than the 49ers is the Seahawks, but the Niners have better wide receivers, better tight ends, better offensive linemen, better defensive linemen and better linebackers than Seattle.

The biggest difference between the 49ers and the Seahawks is coaching.

The 49ers are about as good as they can be given the current salary cap. They will not get much better, economics simply won’t allow it. They might even get worse as Justin Smith and Frank Gore get older.

If Harbaugh couldn’t win a Super Bowl coaching this team when Smith and Gore were in their primes, maybe Harbaugh can’t win a Super Bowl coaching any team.

Could Bill Belichick have won the Super Bowl coaching the 49ers the past three seasons?

Yes.

Could Sean Peyton?

Yes.

Pete Carroll?

Yes.

John Harbaugh?

Yes.

Tom Coughlin?

Yes.

Mike Tomlin?

Yes.

Six head coaches right off the bat who deserve to make more money than Harbaugh.

Then, I count four more coaches who have not won a Super Bowl, but may have been able to win one had they coached Harbaugh’s Niners. I’m talking Andy Reid, Bruce Arians, Jeff Fisher and Chip Kelly.

That’s 10 coaches. I didn’t even list retired coaches, like Bill Cowher and Dick Vermeil. You could dig up Vince Lombardi’s bones tomorrow, and the bones could coach the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory.

There are only 10 coaches in the NFL who currently earn more money than Harbaugh. The 49ers compensate him appropriately.

Even if the 49ers choose to extend Harbaugh’s contract just to make him happy, doing so would not improve his relationship with 49ers’ general manager Trent Baalke. Extending Harbaugh’s contract would make their relationship even worse. Those two almost certainly talk little these days.

After the 49ers beat the Packers at Lambeau Field during the playoffs, I witnessed an interaction between Harbaugh and Baalke I’ve been re-watching in my mind ever since.

The game had just ended. Harbaugh was bursting with pride, happier than I had ever seen him. At his postgame press conference, as soon as he made eye contact with me he blurted out, “You didn’t think we were going to pull that out, did you?!” He even kissed a couple of writers on the head. He walked through the locker room and hugged every player and coach he saw. Then he stood in a doorway between the locker room and the buses so he could hug more people as they left.

Frank Gore walked into the doorway, hugged Harbaugh, and then hugged Greg Roman – one of those rocking-back-and-forth hugs that last 30 seconds.

Then Baalke walked into the doorway. He didn’t even break stride for Harbaugh. Baalke tapped him on the thigh as if to say, “Atta boy,” and kept walking. Harbaugh nodded and didn’t say a word. You can interpret that any way you want. To me, they didn’t seem like buddies.

The 49ers should trade Harbaugh right now. That would be their best move. Find a team he’s willing to coach and trade him there. The draft picks the 49ers would receive would be worth more to them than Harbaugh. I am not saying he’s a bad coach. He’s good. I’m saying the draft picks are worth more to the Niners than he is. Every first and second-round draft pick is a potential franchise player.

Harbaugh’s best quality is he gets his players to play hard. If the 49ers trade Harbaugh, they easily could promote defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach. Tomsula could get the 49ers top-notch roster to play just as hard as Harbaugh gets them to play, and Tomsula would cost the 49ers about half of what Harbaugh earns.

But the 49ers probably will not trade Harbaugh. They’d have to find a real sucker to pull off that blockbuster. Mike Lombardi, the Browns’ G.M., almost was that sucker, but the Browns owner, Jimmy Haslam, fired Lombardi before Lombardi could pull off that trade and do more damage to the Browns.

Why should any team trade draft picks or players or cash for Harbaugh? He has a history of becoming disenchanted and difficult after just three years with any organization, and he will demand to be the highest-paid coach in the NFL, and he will demand total control over the personnel even though he has no experience evaluating players – that’s Baalke’s job.

If a team actually were to trade for Harbaugh, it would have to give up multiple draft picks for him. It would be years before that team could compete for even a division title. The Browns would have had no chance to compete if they had traded for Harbaugh. They would have been a talentless team with no way to improve.

But a trade probably won’t happen. Neither should an extension. The 49ers and Harbaugh have to find a way to work together for two more years.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for the Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

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  1. Nobody said this to my knowledge:
    The Niners are in the driver’s seat now, because by the time they trade Harbaugh next offseason, they’ll already know who their next head coach will be, and it will be Jon Gruden, who is dying for a chance to open the Bill Walsh vault and send CK7 and Vernon into the record books. You don’t think Gruden would return to coaching given our stacked roster, our vault of coaching history on tape, and an ownership flush with cash thanks to a new stadium and the 50th Super Bowl?

    1. If that were the case I say fire Harbaugh now and take Gruden but that is not happening Gruden is done and doesn’t want to coach anymore.

      1. Plus, why fire Harbaugh now when he might win a SB next year, when you can get multiple 1st rounders for him from a bottom-dweller?

        1. Not sure but it does seem like Gruden has turned down a lot of coaching jobs. Also, because one team was kicking the tires on a trade doesn’t mean that they will be lining up next year for him and I heard the draft picks being offered were not multiple 1st round draft picks.

        2. More likely a team that has a loaded roster but questionable coach would make that move than a bottom-dweller. If you haven’t got the roster talent you can’t afford to trade away lots of top picks.

          1. Gruden went 45-51 after his Super Bowl season with the Bucs. Trading away all of those top picks caught up with them very quickly.

    2. You can always tell the “Lunatics” right away here when they want to Fire Jimbo yesterday!

      On the “Assumption” that the 49ers could get Gruden?

      Really?

      Seriously unless that was a “Sure Thing” which would be a Major Stretch at that, who else would be out there right now that the 49ers could “Realistically” get who would be a better HC than Jimbo?

      You people are out of your minds! And are living in Fantasy Land….Permanently!

      And you could put Grant in that boat too even if he would like he 49ers to Trade him?

  2. Grant

    Why didn’t you give is this Harbaugh-Baalke interaction when it happened? Did you miss its significance at the time? This is an honest question. When you provide us with personal accounts, you do your best work. Do it more, do it spontaneously, and own it. Bring it!!!

  3. If Harbaugh just wants more money, then pay him $7M with a $500K bonus for winning a super Bowl.
    If he wants more say in selecting players then let him have more say but if there is a disagreement between he and Balke Jed decides.
    If he can’t work with anyone else in the organization and wants control over almost every thing tell him to buy a team, don’t pay him any more and play out this year. Then let him go.

  4. If harbs leaves or is traded and Tomsula takes over as head coach who is the offensive coordinator? The bones of Sid Gilman? Harbs’ value has is only determined by how much more money the Yorks would make with him thaen they would with .Tomsula. Considering they are opening a new stadium, having a dissapointing 2014 could cost them significantly. The new stadium makes it worth it to the Yorks to overpay harbs by about a million a year.

  5. I like winning, so no I would not get rid of Harbaugh. If Tomsula could have done what Harbaugh did, why didn’t they make him the head coach? Jed needs to check the egos at the door and give each of these guys a piece of reality. What ever happened to the team, the team?Carroll/Schneider did their jobs better than Harbaugh/Baalke. If one was to leave now, it would look like they couldn’t stand the heat, and ran out of the kitchen. I’d give them this year to prove they are better than those guys. Miami would dump their coach in a hot nano second if they thought they could get Harbaugh for draft picks….

    1. While were discussing the $$ “WORTH” of the 9ers management, would someone
      point out the 2012 draft, that was supposed to be Baalke’s expertise?? If Baalke drafted a receiver, other than AJ Jenkins, would that change the 2013 season?? Can we attribute any of the 9er 2013 loses to lack of a WR, after Crabs went down?

  6. “You could dig up Vince Lombardi’s bones tomorrow, and the bones could coach the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory.” – That was clever and I lol’d, Grant.

    This whole drama is ridiculous. Even if it’s true Jim Harbaugh does not get along with his boss, well, boo.frickin’.hoo! I don’t get along with my boss, either! We still have jobs to do. We get paid to produce. Production leads to winning. Say what you will about Super Bowl wins, this coach is a winner. Pay the man.

    1. He has the most talented roster in the NFL, so he should be a winner. That defense keeps him in every game. But, you pay the man only after he shows he has the capacity to change and improve the offense. His college offense is throttled by any of the top 5-6 defenses. the only reason they advanced was because Kaepernick is a freak talent when he runs. That is not winning with intelligence or strategy. That is relying on pure talent. When Harbaugh and Roman show they can beat Seattle with an offense game plan that doesn’t rely on Kaepernick rushing for 130 yards, then they get their pay. Until then, they are being out coached.

      1. Denver had the highest rated offense in nfl history, how did that offense do against the Seahawks in the superbowl?

  7. OK, you cover a lot of ground here; too much IMO and it gets shaky in places. Look I agree Harbs isn’t Walsh, and so not sacrosanct. But dang, Grant, you have to be responsible with what you write. To wit:
    “but the Browns owner….fired Lombardi before he could…” blah, blah
    That is not accurate. That’s not how that came down at all. Check your sequence of events for, uh, I don’t know, maybe for accuracy, truthfulness, you know, stuff like that. When you diverge (deliberately?) you invalidate an arguement that I might otherwise have some sympathy for.
    I’ve got news though, you don’t get rid of Harbaugh to replace him with Tomsula. I love Jim T., but Jed needs to think bigger. He’ll need a better plan before he pulls that trigger.

    1. Brotha:

      Your reaction is my reaction. Grant’s recount of the Cleveland Browns thing seems willfully ignorant if not intentionally false.

      The column as a whole reveals a not so subtle anti-Harbaugh bias. It seems obvious that the Cohn family’s dislike of Harbaugh is once again coloring Grant’s writing.

      Either that, or he is back to trolling for page hits.

      1. Just another example, amid an unending string of examples, of Grant ‘ feeble skills as a journalist and total lack of adherence to a code of conduct that would insure journalistic integrity. Tim Kawakami, who broke this story and has sources inside 49ers HQ, himself said that Harbaugh has no desire to take on personnel responsibilities. Grant, whom nobody in the building trusts enough to say two words to, knows that Harbaugh does want personnel power? This kind of irresponsible reporting is what has discredited Grant in the eyes of every 49er and it is the reason he will not have a career in journalism once his dad can’t protect him from the meat axe anymore. Just blatantly false reporting…

    2. BT,

      Couldn’t agree more. Every once in awhile Grant comes up with something that just makes me shake my head in bewilderment. This is one of those times.

    3. Tomasula is skipping multiple rungs of the ladder, from d line coach to head coach??? LOL Who are going to be his coordinators, Harbaugh has so many connections in football, I doubt Tomasula does. Grant this isn’t fantasy football, if Tomasula is the coach this team is done, we won’t even see an nfc championship game much less a superbowl. This might be the dumbest, least thought out article I have ever seen. Wrong on about every level.

      1. Tomasula has head coaching experience in NFL Europe. His teams were always at or near the top of that league. He’s very familiar with the Pro game and I suspect he would be a very good NFL head coach. Better than Harbaugh? Maybe not, but still a legitimate option.

  8. I read the comments and blog quite often but dont comment. I just wanted to say Grant that you seem to have a personal issue with Coach H, may I ask why? You will deny it but it is pretty blatant. This is typical politics, the truth is in the middle somewhere.

  9. A rookie NFL coach comes into an established organization and roster and takes them to 2 NFC championships and a play away from the SB. Not too bad.
    What has Baalke done? He blew last years draft and this year the gun is pointed directly at him. What will he do? This is a big draft for him to show what he can do with 13 picks to fill 3 glaring holes?
    I know Harbaugh will coach these guys to a playoff appearance. I know free agents will want to come to SF and play for him.
    If anyone needs a raise its him. Why? Cause all he has done is win. He’s a better coach than Carroll,c’mon! Caroll has been in the NFL a long time coaching. This is JH 4th year coming up and look what he has done already. Pay the man!

    1. Balke blew last years draft? Your joking right? So now we are going to judge a draft after one year. Lol! You want to say that Balke blew the 2012 draft that’s fine… Other then that he has smashed the drafts… Take a look at our roster there bud..

    2. Best comment in weeks!
      Hopefully, Jed is waiting to see what happens this year. Solid GMs are easier to find than top tier coaches. Unless this draft is clearly spectacular, I vote for Baalke’s head before JH’s.

  10. I don’t know if I am the first to say this, but I’ll say it anyway: All the people who think they know what Harbaugh wants, don’t know anything, unless they are insiders. My personal belief is that he is not driven by money, but I don’t really know that. His persona seems to be driven by the desire to coach “real football,” which he seems to define by the style practiced by Bo Shembechler and Mike Ditka. I don’t think that style can win Super Bowls unless the defense is absolutely smothering, like the Bear’s and Raven’s (in 2000). Our defense is very good but not smothering. So that’s what we have. He’s a very, very good coach limited by his passion. I have said before that I believe York/Baalke want more production from the offense, but that won’t happen without JH’s agreement. He’s an “over my dead body” kind of person, so I guess that, as fans, we’ll just have to ride out the next two years.

    1. Here’s something Barrows wrote today that kind of defines where we are with our offense. Bottom line (my words): Roman is creative, but limited by a Neanderthal scheme. A Bill Walsh/Mike Holmgren/Mike Shanhan creative way, no:
      “Cooks is a stone-cold winner. (In fact, he won $100,000 from Adidas by being the fastest receiver at the combine). He’s tough, has a chip on his shoulder and has his you-know-what together. He’s only 20 and won’t turn 21 until September. He probably won’t be around when the 49ers pick. And I can’t help but wonder if he’d be wasted on the 49ers. While he certainly could be used to put pressure on the back ends of defenses – something the 49ers desperately need – he might be best as a receiver who, like Percy Harvin or Tavon Austin, lines up in myriad spots and is used in creative ways. The 49ers coaches, however, have shown a reluctance to use their receivers in creative ways (See: Ginn, Ted) and have not wavered from their power-based approach. It’s one of the reason why 2012 picks, A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James, have seemed like fish out of water in San Francisco.”

      Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/49ers/archives/2014/02/before-i-get-into-some.html#more#storylink=cpy

    2. There aren’t any cases that I remember where a coach was forced to do a lame duck season that worked out well for anyone.

        1. If your column was taken seriously by his players he would be a lame duck tonight.

          “Under no circumstances should the 49ers give Jim Harbaugh a contract extension this offseason. Let him play out the final two years of his deal.”

          How can he play out the final two years of his deal before an extension is offered and not be a lame duck?

        2. I agree, Jim doesn’t like to lose. Worst case scenario is that Baalke and Harbaugh don’t like each other. Well, I guess Jim could just walk away from the contract and go back to college.

    1. Three primary personnel issues between the two:

      1 – Jenkins (who didn’t look all that bad in KC towards the end of the season. Possibly Harbaugh didn’t use him to spite Baalke because he didn’t want him in first place?

      2 – Benching of Smith for Kaepernick – Don’t think Baalke supported that move.

      3 – Playing of Aldon Smith for more than a few snaps in his pre-rehab send off game.

      1. WRONG on 2! Baalke has never liked smith and always said we needed to upgrade the position every year smith was on the roster. Do most of you even follow the 49ers?

  11. When a child gets to the point when they discover the word “no”, usually around two years, they go overboard using it. Then there are adults who try to base a carrier on the word. Sad.

  12. Let me first start off by saying that I’m an avid reader of this blog! I’ve been a niners fan for almost 30 years and I have never been so conflicted or compelled to voice my opinion on the harbaugh baalke matter. The one word that comes to mind everytime I hear a fan or a reporter give their take on the relationship is the word EGO. It’s that simple in my opinion, egos can destroy a franchise. As much respect that I have for coach JH, I feel we are at a point of no return. My feeling is we should play things out this year, and hope some team is desperate or foolish enough to offer us a deal we can’t refuse. I can sit here all night and explain why I feel this way, but I’ll wait to see if someone will engage me in conversation… “Who’s got it better than us!?” Hmmm..

    1. Would you feel any different if the 49ers had won the past three Superbowl? Grant is right on one point, with the cap it will be very difficult to increase the talent level.

      Of course Grant an old warn out technique — the straw man. In this case the very subjective ranking of the 49ers talent level as the best in the league. Only an incompetent fool would fail to win three Superbowls with the talent on the 49er roster the past three years. Of course, during that same period of time he has lambasted their quarterbacks.

      And he can always play to the fans that can’t handle disappointment. It must be fun to have your own blog.

      1. Let’s get one thing out of the way, only a fool will tell you harbaugh doesn’t get the best “effort” out of his players. I myself have said that the job he did in year 1 with Alex smith at QB and no training camp was the best I had ever seen from a rookie head coach! However when we hired JH, I was under the impression that we were getting an offensive guru and the qb whisperer… So far that hasn’t necessarily been the case with the exception of Alex smith. I think it was Lowell who brought up the most reveling stat and that is the 9ers were almost dead last in the redzone after week 4 last year!!! Let me repeat that last in the redzone!!?? Who’s to blame? What about CK’s mechanics and regression in the pocket? Greg roman’s inability to create any type of imagination on offense? Let’s face it guys we brought in harbaugh thinking he was the next Bill Walsh when in fact he looks like the next Mike Ditka.

        1. exactly Bully..We fired one Bear..Hired another..lol..Harbaugh is carrying out Singletary’s wishes..that’s all..A rush attack..defense first team..I thought him bein a offense guy..The offense would get better..Not really..Still conservative..The offense starts and ends with Gore..Which was pretty much the pre- Harbaugh theme..Not much change there..The passing game hasnt improved all that much and def..not creative..his philosophy doesnt win championships..Now idk if Harbaugh or Baalke dont value wr’s or what…but something is amiss there..You got a kid with a cannon for a arm..But no deep threats..other than a tight end.So if they don’t get one in this draft..Imma be ticked.Bryant,Evans,Benjamin,They’re out there..More 3wide 4wr sets.get your other rb’s involved..His philosophy handcuffs and limits his offense..Wouldnt be too much of a fall off..if his staff remained..im more worried if defensive coaches leave vs our offense coach and coaches..

        2. revisionist….

          AS worked the playbooks foundation with his team in camp Alex….before JH could

          In his first year AS brings his team within a couple of fumbles of a SB appearance and allows VD to be the star he is….

          AS was 6-2 before the iffy concussion derailed his possible career year and followed it up by in game coaching of CK to make him as effective as he was

          CK has twice lost games by way of his on field actions two years in a row

          just saying JH doesn’t seem to be a QB whisperer

  13. Im confused. In all of the articles I have read on this subject only two writers have changed the timeline of Mike Lombardi getting fired. Do Lowell and Grant know something others do not? Or do I just not understand how journalism works?

  14. As a 49er fan, I just hope that whatever plan that Jed has for managing his restless HC, who according to the media is: angling for a whole lot of more money/more say on the roster/difficult to work with…..is a tad bit better than the plan his dad had back in Jan 2003 for dealing with another restless HC.

    Mooch’s firing without a coherent plan got the 49ers 8 seasons of irrelevance. Let us hope history does not repeat itself.

    1. Old dad York was drunk at the time and it was in the wee hours after a playoff loss. The 49ers are in much better hands now.

  15. Hold on Grant…the assertion that the coaches you mentioned would have won a Super Bowl with this 49ers team is ludicrous. First off there’s no way to qualify that thought. If Belichick couldn’t win with atom Brady throwing to Randy Moss why you think he could win with Colin Kaepernick throwing much lesser WRs? Mike Tomlin is a good coach, but he wouldn’t have gotten to NFCCG and almost the Super Bowl with Alex Smith. And Jeff Fisher!? No way! I won’t even keep going down the list, because it’s pure fantasy.

    On top of that, who says Harbaugh wants to be the highest paid coach in the league? He turned major money to coach the 49ers, why would that change that dramatically now? That goes against everything Harbaugh stands for. If there’s any hold up in the negotiations it’s likely not money, but JH having a greater day in personnel matters. So once they come to am agreement on that, he’ll get the extension. He probably won’t even be in the top 3 paid coaches in the league, but he’ll get incentives for winning the Super Bowl (which could push him into the top 3).

    Here’s another thing to consider, Kaepernick is Harbaugh’s man, not Baalke’s. So why would Colin get an extension and NOT Harbaugh, or vice versa? Harbaugh very well could’ve said “get the player contracts done first then we’ll take care of mine.”

    My impression is that, like the previous few years, Baalke will make/announce several big signings/extensions in a short period of time. It’ll get done between now and next February.

        1. That’s not saying much considering Fisher has been an NFL head coach for 18+ years. A total of 6 seasons above .500.

          1. Holy crap, Grant! 9:04 pm, you must already have had a few cocktails to make that statement. I can’t believe that you compared a coach with 18+ years experience to another with only 3, having the same CC records. Whoaaaa! You’re a writer??? You set em up, Grant, they’ll knock em down.

          2. You keep saying that we have the most talented roster in the NFL. Is that a fact? Or is that your opinion? Is that based on statistics or combine results? Is it based on how well they played in college? When Harbaugh coached at Stanford did he have the most talented roster in the NCAA? How many pro bowls?

            My point, is that you cannot separate a talented roster from good coaching. A good coach gets the best out of their players and diminishes their weaknesses. He puts them in a position to succeed. Winning also makes a roster appear more talented. Thus, if your team is mediocre and you win, everyone will say that it is talented. Thus saying that Harbaugh merely reaped the benefit could be putting the chicken before the egg. Also, assessing which team is the most “talented” is subjective, there are too many moving parts to make that judgement.

  16. So just to entertain your “trade Harbaugh now” scenario, let’s say Tomsula wins a SB in his 1st yr as head coach with the help of the high picks he acquired in the Harbaugh transaction.
    What guarantee do you have that Tomsula does not ask for a bigger contract amount that Harbaugh is asking for?
    What I like about Harbaugh is the fact that his players play hard for him. And of course the fact that he has provided a long overdue winning culture that this proud franchise was in desperate need of.

    As I said a couple of days ago, I’m very uncomfortable with a defensive minded coach (shell-shocked from Nolan/Singletary) taking over the reins.
    But I will say this; I would much rather have Harbaugh in the Org than Baalke if there is irreparable damage in their relationship. With as many draft picks that the team has accrued over the last few years it’s a little disappointing that we don’t have more young up and coming stars in the making. This has to come to roost on Baalke’ lap imo.

    Perhaps the riff between Harbaugh and Baalke has more to do with Harbaugh’ quick rise in the coaching ranks and JB’ popularity in the locker room. If Baalke was part of the Harbaugh to Cleveland discussion (I have to believe that he was as GM) without first getting a feeler from some of the (players) team leaders than that comes over as not giving any consideration of the locker room as well as devaluing Harbaugh’ importance to the team.
    This line of thinking (if in fact it went down this way), could undermine Baalke’ position/respect as GM among the players and the coaching staff.
    My thinking is that Baalke clears this issue up asap or he must go.

    1. With as many draft picks that the team has accrued over the last few years it’s a little disappointing that we don’t have more young up and coming stars in the making.

      Mike Iupati, Navorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, and Eric Reid would like to know how many up and coming young stars you think should be on one team? Vance McDonald suggests that you give him more than one season, and Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore ask that you at least let them get on the field before you dismiss them.

      Just because Grant undervalued Harbaugh in his column doesn’t mean you have to undervalue Baalke in response to that column.

      1. Claude,
        I would only include Kaep, Aldon and Reid in the window I’m suggesting. The other players have been here for more than a few years and the jury is still out on Carradine, Lattimore and VMac.

        1. AES,

          If you take a look at the hit rate on draft picks, first round included, you’ll see that the draft is a bit of a crapshoot. Admittedly, I didn’t do exhaustive research, but it looks like the percentage of first round picks that are pro bowlers at least once in their career is only 40%.

          Naturally, the success rate goes down after the first round. By the time teams get to the sixth and seventh rounds, the chances of landing a pro bowl player are about 1%.

          Of course, better teams are going to do better and worse teams are going to do worse, but the difference in hit rate is not much. That’s why the strategy of amassing extra picks is so important. It gives a team more chances to guess correctly. It’s also why trading a ton of picks for Watkins, especially in a deep draft is a bad idea, IMO.

          1. Bill Polian is regarded as a great GM, but, if you take away Peyton Manning (yes, I’m going Grant Cohn on you, here), how would his career be viewed? He’d probably still be well regarded, but would he be on ESPN?

          2. AES,

            But just focusing on last year’s draft alone who except for Reid made a difference or impact?

            Who else did you expect to make a difference or impact? There were two starting spots available going into the draft. Reid and McDonald were the only two rookies that were relied on in a regular role. Carradine and Lattimore were both drafted with the knowledge they would not likely be ready until 2014, so there was no chance of impact. Patton might have had a bigger impact, but broke his foot and missed most of the season. Dial had surgery on his toe and wasn’t available for most of the season. Lemonier filled in nicely when Aldon Smith went to rehab.

            Last year’s draft was not going to be impactful. It was done with an eye to the future, and then became even more so do to injuries. There wasn’t much room for rookies to make a splash last year because the team had their starters already in place. That’s why you don’t make conclusions a year after a draft and especially in this case.

        2. AES,

          Baalke has one of the best draft records in the league since he started running the draft. Everybody likes to talk about how good Seattle has been in the draft, but they’ve missed more top picks than Baalke has, and have lucked out with late round picks and UDFA’s more than any team in this league.

          It’s an inexact science and most teams are happy if they are over 50% in the positive to negative quotient. Baalke is very very good at what he does.

          1. I understand the hit rate ratio as well as the inexact science in the draft.
            But just focusing on last year’s draft alone who except for Reid made a difference or impact?

            As I mentioned to CB the jury is still out on the notable picks from last year withe the exception of Reid.

          2. Rocket,

            You are 100% right about Seattle. The Talented Mr. Schneider has been on an incredible mid-late round draft pick / undrafted FA heater. If you look at the Seahawks’ roster, they have a sickening number of mid round and later draft picks. Not only on the roster, but starting

            If you look at Dick Sherman and Kam Chancellor, you see fifth round picks who are not only starting, not only pro bowlers, but the best at their relative positions in the NFL. Drafted in the fifth round! It’s a total prayer to find one player like that, let alone two.

            Given the method Schneider has built the Seahawks, it’s unlikely to be repeatable when they need to restock their roster as they lose talent over the next few years.

          3. AES,

            Rocket’s point was that only Reid and McDonald had a chance to contribute.

            BTW, the 49ers roster hasn’t stayed stocked with talent during Baalke’s three years by magic.

    1. Stanford may have been a bit better the last two years. Then again, Walsh’s last year was a disaster at 6 and 5. It could have been 5 and 6 if Young hadn’t escaped the pocket for the 50 yd stumble into the end zone against the Vikings. His last team almost lost the Superbowl, and the next year the 49ers blew the top off the NFL. Both cases are an apples and oranges comparison.

    2. They haven’t dropped off because they are running Harbaugh’s system and get players due to Harbaugh turning the program around. Shaw is a good Coach, but Harbaugh is the reason Stanford is where they are right now.

      1. The point is that the program hasn’t crumbled without Harbaugh.

        Harbaugh definitely deserves credit for what he build at Stanford, and Shaw also deserves credit for building upon that foundation.

        1. The other point is, what was Stanford’s record pre- Harbaugh?
          Same example applies with the 49ers while we’re at it.

  17. Harbaugh is an intense guy who wants to win really really badly. I think he comes around and takes a contract extension that pays him more, but not as much as he wanted. He is very unlikely to find a situation as good as the 49ers right now. The team is still in top shape. Kaepernick will probably only get better in the next few years and they have some really good draft picks this year, plus two high caliber guys from last year’s draft (Lattimore and Carridine) ready to start having an impact. And they have an awesome new stadium and he lives in a highly desirable area. He is really giving this all up to try to go make some team like Miami a winner? I think things settle down if a couple months and both sides realize that the best thing is to extend Jim with and incentive based contract.

  18. Harbaugh this is what happens when you upset the press. They will find anything and use it against you. I don’t hold much stock in all this speculation based on little or no facts. You all can say what you want to say but none of us are privy to the actual facts and we will never know until the memoirs are written. Lets see, if this story about Harbaugh is true and it seems that some think Harbaugh sucks and yet look at what the Browns were supposedly offering the Niners. So as rumor has it the Browns mortgage their future for years to come to get a coach that sucks. Something wrong with the story somewhere. Go figure.

    1. undercenter, i thought the media will at least wait until the niners have a losing season or missed the playoff before writing stuff like this about Jim. It will bring a smile to my face if the niners give Jim a well deserved extension not just because I like him as the coach of the Niners but also the fact that a lot of the local media cannot stand the guy :)

  19. If Harbaugh couldn’t win a Super Bowl coaching this team when Smith and Gore were in their primes, maybe Harbaugh can’t win a Super Bowl coaching any team.

    Could Bill Belichick have won the Super Bowl coaching the 49ers the past three seasons?

    Yes.

    Could Sean Peyton?

    Yes.

    Pete Carroll?

    Yes.

    John Harbaugh?

    Yes.

    Tom Coughlin?

    Yes.

    Mike Tomlin?

    Yes.

    this has to be the most opinionated least amount of substance and thought I’ve ever seen you write. Could you back up your conjecture with anything? As someone with the privilege of a legitimate news source behind them, you owe the public more thought and substance in your opinionated posts. I normally don’t get too irritated by your contrarian attempts for attention/internet clicks. You’re often wrong, I even call you on it sometimes. But if you’re going to be contrarian or just be wrong; at least back it up.

    1. AFFP, Grant is taking a break from the bash-CK-to-generate-blog-hits and replacing it with the bash-jim-to-generate-blog-hits :) It is getting slow around here…

  20. An interesting column, but I disagree with some parts of it:

    Harbaugh fashions himself a quarterback guru

    How do you know that he thinks of himself in this way? When has he ever said this?

    none of his quarterbacks has been Pro Bowlers during his three seasons coaching the 49ers

    He is in a conference with Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, both veteran quarterbacks and Super Bowl MVPs. In 2011 he was coaching Alex Smith in a new system. In 2012 he switched quarterbacks halfway through the season. In 2013 the 49ers’ WR corps was a problem for the majority of the season.

    They will not get much better, economics simply won’t allow it.

    False. The Seahawks found major upgrades in Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman, both of whom are under rookie contracts. And assuming Marcus Lattimore lives up to the hype I’ve heard about him, he could be the next Gore for a fraction of the cost.

    If Harbaugh couldn’t win a Super Bowl coaching this team when Smith and Gore were in their primes

    At best, these players were at the tail end of their primes. And as for Justin Smith: 2011 ended in a close and hard-fought loss that came down to some special teams flukes, and 2012 ended with Smith in an arm brace.

    Could Bill Belichick have won the Super Bowl coaching the 49ers the past three seasons?

    It’s impossible to answer with any certainty because most of the inner operations of an NFL club are hidden from review. As a member of the media, you know much more about the team than we do, but that doesn’t justify making such brazenly unsubstantiated claims.

    The draft picks the 49ers would receive would be worth more to them than Harbaugh.

    I’m not convinced. Good coaches are rare. But the Rams are a nice experiment in this regard — I’m curious how they’ll do in the coming years, and they might indicate whether a competent coach with great draft picks can do well.

    He has a history of becoming disenchanted and difficult after just three years with any organization

    He has a history of moving on quickly, I agree. But what’s your source for saying he becomes “disenchanted and difficult” ?

    Also, I don’t mean to be fussy, but:

    The draft picks the 49ers would receive would be worth more to them than Harbaugh. I am not saying he’s a bad coach. He’s good. I’m saying the draft picks are worth more to the Niners than he is

    That’s a slow and repetitive way of saying: “Harbaugh is a good coach, but the draft picks the 49ers could get by trading him are worth more.” Your column is interesting, so your prose should be too.

    1. one of harbaugh’s former qbs went to a pro bowl this year–and had a better season than harbaugh’s current qb

  21. This is one of your worst articles yet Grant and what makes it even worse is that you have a blatant lie in it.

    Mike Lombardi, the Browns’ G.M., almost was that sucker, but the Browns owner, Jimmy Haslam, fired Lombardi before Lombardi could pull off that trade and do more damage to the Browns.

    The Browns had hired Mike Pettine AND THEN about one month later Mike Lombardi and the rest of the ‘toxic’ front office was fired. This was after the Browns called the Niners about the availability of Harbaugh and the Niners made sure those talks didn’t go any further.

    1. MWD, maybe I’m naive but I just don’t understand the media sometimes. I mean how can a member of the media can just write something like this without backing it with any ounce of evidence. SMH…

      1. Lots of people get confused by that stuff around here, Ricardo. Grant is not a journalist, nor a reporter. He’s a blogger. He offers opinions; sometimes backed up by facts, but more often backed up by cherry picked stats, or quotes from other bloggers or “experts” (as long as they agree with Grant’s opinion). NOTHING wrong with that…this place is for entertainment, and I’d say Grant comes up with a lot of entertaining thoughts. If you want actual journalism, this is NOT the place to find it!

    2. Haslam didn’t decide to fire Lombardi the day he fired him. Haslam decided to fire Lombardi rather than trade everything for Harbaugh. Smart decision. Firing Lombardi was a formality after that decision. Once Pettine was in, Lombardi essentially was out.

      1. Lombardi and the front office were fired after Haslam looked into claims by coaching candidates that they decided to not join the Browns because of their ‘toxic’ front office and found those accusations to be true.

  22. While I think, if we are forced to only have one, I’d take keeping Baalke with extra draft picks over keeping Harbaugh your argument for it is pretty weak. Saying other coaches “could” have one the Super Bowl with this roster is silly because its unfalsifiable. I could just as easily say Payton, Belichick,Tomlin, etc would not have even made the playoffs with this roster and Harbaugh should be paid more than any coach in the league.

  23. What will be interesting to see is whether the uncertainty created by all this impacts on the 49ers’ ability to attract, retain and extend players. Stability and clear direction are key ingredients of successful teams, and disunity in the front office is a warning sign of instability and internal issues – it could be a deciding factor when it comes to a player’s decision on whether to sign/ re-sign.

    Jed would be well advised to put this to bed somehow.

  24. Only 58 posts counting this one at 12:34 AM, 02/27/2014.

    Maybe journalism would work better.

    It’s already a new day.

  25. Some of you guys clearly aren’t fans long enough to remember the 10 years we spent in the desert before Harbaugh came along. Trade Harbaugh are you nuts?? Though he’s a little out of control sometimes, the bottom line is he’s a winner. I love Tomsula, but to think he’d do a better job than Jim Harbaugh is outright crazy.

    First off we don’t even know what happened- there are as many conspiracy theories and hear-say stories to this as the JFK assassination. The whole story has a whole TMZ/Perez Hilton feel to it.

    They hired him to make the Niners into a winner and he has. 3 words- pay the man.

  26. There is only one thing that we know for sure, folks. Grant despises Jim Harbaugh. Is it because he is a fan of a different team, and, unfortunately he has to write this blog? Is it because Jim doesn’t act the way Grant thinks a head coach should? Could it be because the 49ers’ success three years in a row is starting to boil over in his sub-conscience? Who knows… However, rather than speculate why Grant loathes Jim so much, I can only say that it’s apparent to anyone that follows this blog that the hatred is there.

    I realize that journalists have to write something; and a lot of times it’s negative. When it comes to Grant, the negative/positive ratio while reporting on the 49ers/Harbaugh/Kaepernick on this blog is 95/05. I can say, though, that I almost feel for Grant. It must be extremely hard to write a blog for a team/coach that you can’t stand. It reminds me of an important saying that is told to everyone throughout our lives, “If you’re not happy with your job, find something else to do.” It’s only apparent you can’t stand this team, Grant. Maybe, just maybe it’s time for you to try to move up in life and write about your team.

    What do I think is happening with the coaching situation right now? Without “real” evidence, I don’t have an opinion. A lot of times journalists write things to get hits on their blogs, sometimes they want to stir the pot, and most of the time they love when it gets negative. Some people act like they know what’s going on in an organization, when in fact they don’t.

    But to blatantly say, “Get rid of Harbaugh.” All I can say to that is, “What?” 10 years of hell, and now three years of success, and someone has the grapefruits to say get rid of the coach???? Again, “What?”

    Okay, I said my peace, now back to the “Speculation Blog” Peace all, and, oh yeah, GO 49ERS!!!

  27. No one, repeat no one is feeling sick
    throughout the entire offseason the way
    Coach Harbaw will. All summer long.
    You handed the Super Bowl to Pete Carroll.
    3:33 seconds… plenty of time to win the game.
    Instead Harbaw got wrapped up in… who knows what?
    (shall we ask his psychiatrist…?)
    Again…SERIOUS WARNING:
    keep him away from the bottle.
    The man has a drinking problem.

  28. If we can sign him, we should, because he turned around a terribly underperforming franchise and guys like that are hard to find (whether you give any coach full credit is a separate issue).

    I now believe that if we don’t sign him this offseason, he definitely leaves – so, the scenario where we wait him out 1 year to see if he wins the SB is void. Harbaugh seems to be one of those people who needs constant stimulus, and praise is probably top of that list. So if he doesn’t feel the love by August, he’s gone regardless of what happens afterward.

    Will we fare well in the post-Harbaugh era? Perhaps. But since 1960 the Niners have had 3 eras which were satisfying: Nolan in 1970-72, Walsh et al from 81-94, and now Harbaugh et al. As a business manager – Jed – I wouldn’t mess with that if I could avoid it. I think his stance about only being willing to pay top dollar for a SB win is noble, but sometimes you have to know when the principle is less important than the product. Reasonable minds may disagree.

  29. My sense is that Harbaugh is one of the many coaches who had great success in college but, upon arrival in the NFL cannot understand the impact of the salary-cap era. I believe that he is not so much concerned about the money he will make, but longs for the simplicity of the old NFL and his previous college experience. In short, he is too close to the players personally and unwilling to share responsibilities with others in the organization. So it really does come down to one of us has to go. But it is not only Baalke who I am referring to because he must work within the salary-cap framework that takes considerably more cooperation with others. The truth is, I believe, that not only does Harbaugh long for the days of Schembechler and Ditka smash mouth football, but the days when players could be paid unlimited amounts. If Harbaugh stays, not only does Baalke need to go, but new team President Paarag Marathe would also be looking for work. Not going to happen. (Recall that Marathe was originally hired to use his rocket science background to manage salary-cap issues). When it comes to Harbaugh’s success at Stanford, many underplay the massive change there that happened not long before his arrival on the scene. Stanford grads from all over the world, have opened up their check books in unprecedented fashion to provide almost limitless funds to back the Cardinal. My belief is that Jim could have easily ended up like Nick Saban who found that an enormous amount of his talent as a coach depended on a huge (almost unlimited) recruiting budget, without which he could not win as he does. You can argue over who built the 49ers roster to where it is today. As Grant correctly observes, it is one of the best in the NFL, but no one would claim that it was Harbaugh who built it. (I love it when everyone says the only guy who can go deep is a tight end. Yeah, a tight end named Vernon Davis who, if used properly, would be putting up All World numbers forever!) Good Bye Jim. Don’t let the door….

  30. I thought Alex Smith went to the Pro Bowl, maybe after he left the Niners but JH saved Alex’s butt. Good enough for me.

    And Grant, this column sucks, like a time machine back to when you started. You can do better than this. You embarrass yourself here…

  31. let Harbaugh takes his talents to South Beach, and then give the picks to the Ravens, and we get his brother that would be sweet. Can you imagine, having John and we win another Super Bowl and Jim is then looking for a third job by then.

  32. Grant,

    As usual, people will only lavish with praise those beat writers who tell them what they want to hear. You are professional and gutsy enough to not be trying to make your job a popularity contest. That’s why I like your articles the most.

    I do think you are underestimating Harbaugh’s impact however. We are ONE throw away from having another SB ring 2 years ago and ONE throw from having been in the SB last year, which on that day, we would have won with roller skates on.

    If those two errant throws were thrown better and completed, would you still write this article?

    1. Harbaugh did no coaching during those two plays, didn’t even use a timeout. Those two plays were recess — you run to the tree and I’ll throw it up. York paid for coaching during those moments.

      1. I am still suffering sleepless nights because Harbaugh did not call timeout to settle his team and run a set play at the end in Seattle. I have been a fan of the NFL since the 50′s and every coach I have ever seen has called a timeout in that situation with two TO’s remaining. 100 percent of the time. Not Harbaugh though.

      2. Damn. You got me. When it mattered most, Harbaugh wasn’t doing his job.

        I seriously doubt someone like Tomsula could handle such a situation better, however. He would just try to motivate, and we are through with motivational speakers as head coaches (see: Singletary, Mike).

  33. I had to stop reading. I can’t believe you get paid for this. What a bunch of B.S. That was a complete waste of time – mine and yours!

  34. Two problems with your logic.
    1) The common conception that we have the most talented roster in the league is predicated, in large part, on three winning seasons in a row. Nobody says a losing team has the most talented roster in the team. Good coaching brings out the strengths and diminishes the weaknesses of a talented roster.
    Sub point: Your argument is undercut by your constant assertion that the 49ers lack a pro bowl quality quarterback. If the 49ers have the most talented roster in the league, then they have a serious hole at the most important position. Notwithstanding that weakness, they still win.
    2) You seem to think being a head coach is all about motivating players and strategy. One thing Harbaugh does well is assemble an excellent staff. One could make the case that the 49ers have the best coaching staff in the league. That coaching staff was put together by Jim Harbaugh.
    3) Your assertion that 10 other coaches in the league could have won the super bowl with the 49ers’ roster is mere conjecture. There are too many moving pieces in football to be able to assert with certainty that one team coach would win under any circumstances. It’s also irrational to state that the coach alone makes the difference between winning and losing in one particular game.
    4) Harbaugh’s body of work supports the inference that he is the common denominator in the 49ers rise as a power in the NFL. The same cannot be said of Baalke. Harbaugh has been successful in every organization he has been a part of. Every year he has coached this team we have at least made the NFC Championship. Baalkee failed on the 2012 draft, he was a key personnel executive during Nolan and Singletary. I buy that Baalke is a good talent guy, but he is not great. Harbaugh has proven, through evidence, to be a great coach.

    Finally, this Harbaugh chatter is really making me lose respect for you and this fan base. I think the Seahawks got it right… we are forty whiners. 10 years we had to sit through season after season of failure. I would have given anything to pull out a winning season and just get to the playoffs. We get three winning seasons in a row and people want to fire our head coach. What are we the Raiders?

      1. MNB……I believe there are 2 reasons Grant wants Harbaugh gone #1 he does’nt care whether the team wins or loses he is a writer not a fan and #2 as a writer he loves a great story and the 9ers getting rid of or not signing Harbaugh would be a great story.

          1. Jack when you say you agree with Grant i take that to mean you think the 9ers should trade Harbaugh, if the ca’nt trade Harbaugh they should not renegotiate his contract with him and lastly if he does’nt win a SB in the next 2 yrs they should release him. Is that right?

          2. Coach,

            That they should be willing to part ways with Harbaugh. I don’t think that Grant’s take has anything to do with how Harbaugh handles the media, etc as some have stated. May be naive on my part but that’s my take.

            I think the current state of things is perfect for fans with 2014 being an all or nothing season. Harbaugh won’t go into 2015 as the coach of the 49ers without a new deal, and I don’t think Jed will give him what he wants unless they win the Super Bowl first.

            Like everyone else I don’t have inside the building knowledge of the relationships, but this is my gut feeling on the situation.

          3. Jack i agree with you i do’nt think this article was personel on Grants part its just a good story. What i’m reading on your part is you do’nt think the Yorks will resign Harbaugh so in that case the team should get something for him now. For the sake of arguement lets say you are right about the Yorks then i agree with you if it is a fait accompli then yes get something. Thats not what i’m taking from Grants post i’m reading his post as regardless of what the Yorks plans are the team should either trade Harbaugh or not resign him if he does’nt win a SB first.

      2. Because JH is smarter, taller and better looking and he doesn’t put up with their baloney. I think Jim has a good relationship with Pops, but when Shrub reverts to English Comp 101 for columns like this, respect goes out the window. Too bad because he was making good progress in recent months. But, same as Colin’s footwork, this writer’s critical thinking skills, motivation (took 10 minutes to write this) and general – how shall I put it – hipster elitism are serious weaknesses, they make for a daft bit of prose…

    1. Excellent points. But please don’t get unduly upset over Grant’s poor arguments. He’s trying to make a living getting blog traffic and its working,

      1. I know. However, in the process of building traffic he has abandoned all journalistic integrity. His posts more and more have the tone of a little child trying to get attention by being bombastic and obnoxious.

        There was a time, that I loved Grant’s posts. He wrote with enthusiasm. I found the negative comments about his grammar and nepotism to be petty. However, in the process of the last couple months after the NFC Championship, I have lost all respect for him as a beat writer. He has abandoned any semblance of good journalism. It’s a shame to the profession to make these broad declarations without any supporting evidence.

  35. The media is having a witches hunt. The only FACT that we know is that the Browns contacted the Niners about acquiring Harbaugh. The media doesn’t like JH and it has been quite apparent they are using anything they can find to assanate his abilities and I style.

    An example of this, is this article proclaiming all these coaches could win with this team. No —t sherlock. That is a very narrow list to boot . The Niners are a very talented team and lots of coaches could win with this roster. The best team with the best coach do not always win. I repeat the best team with the best coaches do not always win. There is zero certainty that Belichick would of won with this team. That is why the game is played.

    When you are on top every one does what they can do to bring you down that is the nature of the human being.

  36. WTF, GRANT?!? U’r asinine article has lost mins of my life!!! I cant believe I juz read this dribble! Harbaugh is why this team is this good. Almost the same core players during nolan/singletary years, and were they calling this same roster this good?!? NOPE! JH is the reason why this roster is this good! He turned players into near elite status. This team focuses on detail and looking to get better everyday!

  37. Let Harbaugh go and there is a very strong likelyhood that the 9ers will very quickly become a losing organization all over again. Great organizations do’nt change coaches when the only motive is financial, its Mariucci all over again. There are very very few head coaches who can win at the NFL level when you have one you hold on for dear life. I guess you can go the college route…..no that fails more often than not. I guess you could hire a GREAT coordinator…….no that does’nt work some of the greates coordinators make horrible head coaches. Grant thinks the 9ers should’nt resign Harbaugh now, of course he feels that way he does’nt care whether the team wins or loses he’s not a fan. In fact he enjoys a writing about a good story and the 9ers letting Harbaugh go would be a very good story. I had the same arguement with other 9er fans in 2002 about Mariucci and untill this day some still defend the move. Does Harbaugh have his weaknesses yes. Do i know of any candidates for the HC job who are guarenteed winners like Harbaugh? Hell know.

    1. OC, despite the fact that our offense frustrates me, you make a great deal of sense. Truthfully, he has made it so that no one wants to play the Forty Niners. As you know, though, there’s the story that behind the scenes he disrupts the organization and that because of that, York/Baalke would not have been sorry to see him go to Cleveland. There’s also the story that he wants more say in personnel decisions, which fits with the first story. If it’s not that bad, you would think that going forward they will give him a better contract and, assuming Harbaugh won’t budge on the offense, that Baalke will have to draft to better suit Harbaugh. To me that would mean strengthening the secondary and offensive line, and drafting wide receivers in the mold of Crabtree and Boldin rather than drafting for speed.

      1. George if theres a problem between Baalke and Harbaugh then Jed York needs to take charge and make it work. It might remain an uncomfortable relationship but it can still work.

        1. I agree. It can still work. We are not likely to see a dazzling offense, though, which might be more my concern than yours.

      2. One other thing, I do remember Harbaugh saying before the 2013 draft that Baalke had to “hit this one out of the park.” I didn’t make much of it at the time, but in hindsight I think it’s possible he was publicly criticising how Baalke drafted the year before. And he was right, that draft was awful.

    2. I agree old coach. It’s amazing how quickly some are to cast off a HC who has turned the fortunes of this team around.

  38. Would Jim Harbaugh have the best record 36-11 (.760) and 5-3 in playoffs of any coach fired or traded?

    I see that Jon Gruden was 38-26 (.594) and 2-2 in the playoffs in four seasons with the raiders.

    Was Jimmy Johnson fired or did his contract expire? His was 44-36 (.550) and 7-1 in the playoffs in five years with the cowboys.

    1. Captain….. Barry Switzer was 5-2 in the playoffs when he was fired but the reason he was fired went beyond winning losing or financial. The Raiders after Gruden are the best arguement for not getting rid of a winning coach but it would be a great story to write about.

      1. Thanks Old Coach. Barry Switzer was 40-24 (.625) and 5-2 in the playoffs in four seasons with the cowboys. 45 wins in four years is the top of the list so far of a coach getting fired or traded.

        1. Switzer had that record after taking over an actual Super Bowl roster.
          Not the kind of “Super Bowl ready” roster I keep being told Harbaugh was handed. The 49ers “Super Bowl ready” roster had gone 21-27 in the previous three seasons before he took over. 41-14-1 record in the three season since taking over. That is scary.

  39. There is a saying that liberalism is a mental disorder. Perhaps being a sports writer is a mental disorder too. You are flipping insane if you think the 9ers should trade Harbaugh. I could pick apart so many pieces of your argument but I’ll focus on 2.

    You say Harbaugh hasn’t developed any Pro Bowl QB’s. Harbaugh took Alex Smith from the trash heap of obscurity and built him into a functional NFL QB. He took a rookie QB and built him into a Superbowl appearance and an NFCCG appearance. Harbaugh has done a fantastic job with the 2 QB’s he’s coached in SF. Can they get better? Yes, without a doubt. Has Harbaugh done an amazing job coaching the QB’s on the roster? Yes, without a doubt. By your standards, Bill Walsh was a failed QB guru because Joe Montana didn’t make a Pro Bowl in his first 2 years. Harbaugh has been great at building QBs.

    You say any average coach could have coached the 9ers to a Superbowl victory with their roster. This is complete and total bull pucky. You can’t live in a vacuum and not realize the millions of curveballs and variations that come up every year. Harbaugh has done a fantastic job navigating the pitfalls the past 3 years. He has coached this team for 3 years and taken them to the Championship game every year. That’s an amazing accomplishment. Before Harbaugh, the 9ers were awful. Since Harbaugh the 9ers have been great. You don’t get rid of a coach who has built a winner.

    1. Houston…. wait a minute let me get this straight you are saying liberalism and conservatism are not mental disorders comon your joking with me, right?

      1. I’m saying any sports writer who thinks the 49ers should trade Jim Harbaugh is just about as insane as the current set of politicians in the majority in Washington. And that’s hard to do.

        1. Aw, c’mon, Houston. You find qualitative differences between the morons in Washington by majority/minority? By party? So you mad at The Senate and its majority or The House and its majority? They’re all self-serving Ho’s. BTW, is there much difference in Austin or Sacramento or Phoenix? Not.

          1. They’re all bought and paid for but there’s only one party controlling 67% of the Fed govt that is inflicting pain that will be felt for generations.

          2. The Bush era inflicted a lot of pain too and made it pretty much impossible for the Country to flourish after he was gone. Obama has made his share of mistakes, but the financial hardships this Country is dealing with were put in place by the Bush Government.

          3. The fact of the matter is that Barney Frank and then Dodd/Frank and then Dem control beginning in 2006 is THE reason for the collapse in the real estate market. I’m in that business and it’s beyond question that Barney “roll the dice with Fannie/Freddie” Frank and Maxine Waters did more to damage the US economy than any 2 people in American history. I also have inside workings (indirectly) with Tim Geithner. The man belongs in prison rather than being involved in business. The things he pulled were shocking, dishonest, unethical, and just plain wrong. We can take it off line and I can give you real examples if you like. Otherwise I will go back to football and not respond about any other political issues here.

          4. The financial problems this nation is going through is because of the incompetence of our POTUS and the one before him along with each party. They’re more interested in passing bills and laws supporting their agendas that put this nation further into the black and looking good in front of the camera than what is best for the American people.

          5. Coming from a guy with a screen name that you might hear on an episode of Bevis and Butthead, i will take that as a compliment.

          6. Coming from a guy whose screen name references the state of Texas, it doesn’t surprise me that you would.

          7. Claude, Houston comon fellas you are trying to prove my theory that there are 2 things wrong with america today……Liberalism and Coservatism other than that we doing pretty damn well.

          8. Sorry, old coach, I have a hard time putting up with people expressing strong opinions about economics when they don’t know what they are talking about. Especially when those same people have recently demonstrated woeful ignorance on other topics.

          9. Houston,

            Instead of disagreeing with almost everything you’ve said in this thread, I’ll focus on the one thing you said that I do agree with.

            Maxine Waters is an idiot, a horrible politician and I’m surprised she hasn’t been arrested.

            Conservatives are funny, either you’re one of them, or you’re a liberal. Which is a mental disorder, no less. Which, I’m sure is a joke, and everyone should stop being so sensitive.

  40. Just another example, amid an unending string of examples, of Grant’s feeble skills as a journalist and total lack of adherence to a code of conduct that would insure journalistic integrity. Tim Kawakami, who broke this story and has sources inside 49ers HQ, himself said that Harbaugh has no desire to take on personnel responsibilities. Grant, whom nobody in the building trusts enough to say two words to, knows that Harbaugh does want personnel power? This kind of irresponsible reporting is what has discredited Grant in the eyes of every 49er and it is the reason he will not have a career in journalism once his dad can’t protect him from the meat axe.

    Do you have an unimpeachable inside source that told you that Grant? Someone with better knowledge of the circumstances than Kawakami’s? Or are you just talking out of school AGAIN? Just blatantly false reporting…

  41. Here’s what John Madden said about Harbs a couple days ago:

    “You tell me where they’re going to get a guy that’s any better than him?” “It’s a lot easier to get a suit than it is to get a coach.”
    “Jim Harbaugh has done a great job of coaching in the NFL no matter how you put it,.”

    Harbs is the first coach in NFL history to take his team to 3 straight conference championship games in his first 3 seasons. He built Stanford into a powerhouse and look what he accomplished at crappy U of San Diego. He won 22 of his last 24 games.

    Lets compare Harbs with two of the best NFL coaches ever.
    The great Bill Walsh won only 8 games during his first two years with the Niners and what about Bill Belichick? He was 8 games under 500 and had only 1 playoff win in 5 years with Cleveland, before he was fired.

    Harbaugh is clearly the right coach for the Niners, York should sign him long term immediately. Yes Harbs is an odd bird but who cares if we continue to be a top 5 team year after year?
    The Niners will handle Seattle in Seattle this season. It aint easy winning there, most home field advantages are worth about 3 points. In Seattle (12th Man), it’s more like a 10 point advantage. If Niners played Seattle on a neutral field, they’d win 80% of the time.

    In Harbaugh I trust!

    1. Crabs great post. I’m begining to feel just a little bit silly just taking part in the discussion. Come on Grant you are better than this.

      1. Coach – I hear ya bro. I’m usually a Grant fan but this is ludicrous.
        Grant must think Harbs has it in for him. Remember Harbs eye-balled Grant during SF/GB post game presser and said “you didn’t think we could do it, did you?” :)

  42. Grant you would have some street cred and insight had you written this column 2 weeks ago. BEFORE the trade rumors.
    Now it just looks like you jump on the bandwagon to prove that JH is a bad man with his fits and unwillingness to talk to the media (like you). It looks like you have turned it into a personal vendetta with your assumption that almost ANY coach would have won the SB. However you forget to mention that NONE OF THOSE COACHES YOU MENTIONED, has accomplished what Jim did.
    JH walked into a roster that was under performing under Singletarry and turned them into winners.
    For THREE straight years!!!

  43. 2 ways to look at it, 1: Harbaugh has gone as far as he is going to with this team. His inability to get his team to the top 3 straight years because of very questionable moves, time management, Kaeps. limitations and regressions, Romans sometimes questionable play calling and players lack of discipline, not to mention Jim’s berating of referees (never helps) all say, time to go.

    2: He’s a winning coach, 36 regular season wins and 3 trips to the NFC title game say it is so. Prior to him being there the 49ers were on the level of the Raiders, years of sub par football and not even sniffing the post season.

    Has he worn out his welcome? Better things ahead for Jimbo and the 49ers?
    Draft choices (high ones) are gold in the salary cap era, an annoying, petulant high maintenance coach with aging players is not.
    Jim, can I help you carry those boxes out to your car?

    1. Time to go after three seasons? Nolan at least got to start his fourth season as head coach and he had 16 wins 32 losses . Are you really ready to pull the plug after 41 wins in the past three seasons? It is getting scary in here.

  44. Don’t extend Harbaugh after a superbowl appearance and two NFC Championships, you are high. We had the best talent in the division for 3 years prior to Harbaugh’s arrival but we couldn’t break .500. All those coaches you mentioned are under contract, so if we don’t sign Harbaugh to an extension and end up losing him, what coach in out there would be close to Harbaugh? We lose Harbaugh you will see just how wrong you are, back to mediocrity you will see.

  45. Grant – For the first time, I agree with everything you wrote. Jim Harbaugh is winning now but the roster is loaded with talent and he has yet to maxmize it. Stubbornly, the Niners have not adapted or adjusted enough to win a championship. Harbaugh could fall under the forgettable category of Jeff Fisher, Joe Walton, Don Coryell, Tony Dungy, Jim Mora, Ray Malavassi, John Robinson. Great rosters but could get over the hump to a championship. Until Harbaugh wins the Super Bowl, he has no reason to gripe about salary or roster.

    1. Tony Dungy is a Super Bowl winner. He got over the hump.

      NONE of coaches you listed have a winning record in the playoffs except Harbaugh.

      Fischer: 5-6 in 19 seasons
      Robinson: 4-6 in 9 seasons
      Malavassi: 3-3 in 6 seasons
      Coryell: 3-6 in 14 seasons
      Walton: 1-2 in 7 seasons
      Mora: 0-6 in 15 seasons

      Jim Harbaugh: 5-3 in 3 seasons

      Bud Grant, Marv Levy and Dan Reeves would be good additions to your list buy they are not forgettable and neither is Harbaugh.

      1. Tony Siragusa’s adult diapers for men commercial is more exciting than the Singletary/Jimmy Raye offense was.

  46. To say you stretched the boundaries of credible evidence would be an understatement Grant. First off, you, along with pretty much everyone else who has reported on the Cleveland story know any specific details, so everything you wrote here is speculation based on hearsay and innuendo.

    How much is Harbaugh worth? How much is winning worth? How much is having a competent HC worth? How much is a guy who wins everywhere he goes worth? Before coming to the 49ers, Harbaugh turned around two College programs in short order. Stanford especially was a dead program when Harbaugh was hired and by the time he left, they were a National powerhouse. That is what a good HC can do. I’m reading about how great a HC Pete Carroll is and yet he has a losing record against Harbaugh going back to when they faced each other at the Collegiate level. Pete Carroll has also been Coaching over 30 years while Harbaugh has been in it for 10. Pete Carroll wishes he was half the Coach Harbaugh is when he was 10 years in.

    The 49ers were mired in nearly a decade of losing and dis function when Harbaugh was hired. He inherited a team that went 6-10 the year previous, and faced his first year without an offseason due to a lockout. All he did was lead that team to a 13-3 record and the NFCCG. He’s followed that up with two more NFCCG performances and a SB appearance. He’s won more games in his first 3 seasons than pretty much any Coach in the history of the game, and set a record with the 3 straight NFCCG appearances.

    I’ve heard the theory that anybody could coach a talent laden team and have success yet I never see it. The league is littered with talented teams that achieved nothing and a big part of it it is Coaching. It’s not just about x’s and o’s, it’s about combining that with motivation and counseling to keep a roster of 53 players on the same page and performing to the best of their abilities. It’s not easy and few have the success Harbaugh has had. Look at the past couple of teams that tried it: Oakland and San Diego. Oakland traded Gruden and within two years were starting the worst stretch of football in league history. San Diego fired Schottenheimer after a 14-2 season and proceeded to go downhill to the point the GM and HC were fired and one of the most talented teams in the league achieved nothing.

    More draft picks are not more valuable than a great HC. Draft picks are bets that pay off sometimes and crap out at others. A strong HC ensures that you can overcome the picks that don’t work out instead of flat lining. You also need to have a well thought out plan for replacing the HC if you trade him which hasn’t been done here. Tomsula is a great Dline Coach and a heck of a nice guy, but winning in NFL Europe is not enough of a reason for me to feel he’s going to be a great NFL Coach. If you are going to replace Harbaugh it better be with somebody you know can do the job and there aren’t many of those guys out there right now in fact I can’t think of anyone available who could come in and do the job Harbaugh has done.

    There is a good chance Harbaugh doesn’t finish out his contract because of a disconnect with the front office, and that’s really unfortunate because you rarely find a combination that produces the results on the field that we’ve seen from Harbaugh and Baalke.

    For those believing this team is talented enough to win with another HC, all I can say is be careful what you wish for.

    1. Rocket – Splendid post bro.
      Another thing about sneaky Pete, he had a 33-31 record as a head coach in NFL, prior to Seattle job. Nothing to shout about……I bet the Jets and Pats regret firing the rat.

    2. Rocket very well said its what i’ve been saying here for a while, there are VERY few football coaches in the world who can win at the NFL level regardless of how much talent they have. Getting rid of a winner is just plain stupid and the kind of move owners like Al Davis [late in his career] and John York make

    3. Great response to a weak piece of journalism. Let’s take a look at the number of teams who have been able to reach a conference championship game 3 years in a row over the past 43 years of pro football. 70s- Dallas, LA Rams, Miami and Pittsburgh; 80s- SF; 90s- Buffalo, Dallas; 2000s- New England and Philly. In 43 years only 9 teams have achieved what Harbaugh has achieved. 10th highest paid coach you say is good enough- do you mean all time? Let’s smell the coffee here for those of us who have suffered through the grim years from 2002 to Harbaugh’s entry. If winning is the criteria, he is worth twice what he is making.

    4. Wow…

      Fantastic post Rocket. I like Grant, for the most part, although there are times when I wonder if he’s just posting things to fire up the fan base, in a negative way. This is certainly one of those times. Grant can run all the stats he wants and bring up any “one” play from “one” game where Harbaugh made a mistake or didn’t make the best decision, but the man wins. Everywhere he goes he wins.

      Grant you are way off base here. This article is filled with so many assumptions and guesses, how can you put your name on this junk. You’re better than this Grant. At least i thought you were.

      1. “Grant you are way off base here. This article is filled with so many assumptions and guesses, how can you put your name on this junk. You’re better than this Grant. At least i thought you were.”

        I feel the same way, Leo :(

    5. My 49er memory goes back to 1946. The “all offense – no defense” 1957 season was an exciting year. Ownership traded Y. A. Title to the Giants to save money. They got nothing of value for him. This situation reminds me of those days, and the John York years. Please, no more!

  47. Wow now I read that you said to trade Harbaugh for picks? That worked out really well for the Raiders when they got draft picks for Gruden, they have been in an abyss ever since. We’ll see how bad it is making the superbowl when they get knocked out of the first round of the playoffs. I guess you are longing for the days of coach sing when he needed to look at the film to remember his players names. You mention Cowher, what did it take 10 years for him to win a superbowl? And all those Steeler teams were LOADED. No doubt in my mind if Harbaugh stays he will cash a superbowl in, if he leaves it will be a case of you don’t know what you got until it’s gone, that’s a certainty.

    1. Bunz – Even Tom Landry and Chuck Noll (Steelers and Cowgirls) had several losing seasons before they ever won Super Bowls.

  48. Yeah those picks will be very valuable, so Baalke can blown them on the AJ Jenkins of the world. Guy had the worst draft I’ve ever seen in 2012 and so far last year stunk. One starter (Eric Reid) out of an entire draft, garbage, baalke is mediocre at best. I like Tank Carradine but until he plays and contributes, terrible draft again. Also could have gotten josh Gordon for a 2nd rounder and didn’t pull the trigger. Baalke is the one they should replace.

  49. What a surprise that Grant throws down this gem. Easily replace the first coach to lead his team to three straight conference championships. Really?

    I remember when there was at least an implication of objectivity in the term journalist. Can we trade Grant and his Daddy to a paper covering a team they don’t hate?

  50. Grant

    Any reason you didn’t write about the odd Harbaugh-Baalke interaction that you witnessed when it happened? That would have been very interesting at the time.

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