San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has been at the helm for three seasons. In those years, San Francisco has reached the NFC Championship game each time, including a Super Bowl trip in 2012. Yet, things don't appear well by the bay.
The 49ers players, including some of the most prominent, are reportedly growing tired of Harbaugh, per the San Francisco Chronicle.
And from what I've been told, the tension isn't just upstairs in the building. One source with inside knowledge of the team says that Harbaugh's act has worn thin in the locker room, particularly among some key "face of the 49ers" type players. While the team is winning, that's not a problem. But a few losses could expose a widening rift.
All of this serves as the backdrop for the beginning of San Francisco's 2014 season. General manager Trent Baalke has proved one of the best personnel men in the business, bringing in Colin Kaepernick, NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Mike Iupati, and Harbaugh himself during his tenure. Still, the relationship between Baalke and the head coach seems contemptuous at best.
Perhaps even more telling is the reported problems with players. Nothing has ever surfaced on the sideline, but that might not tell the whole story. If the players really do have issues with Harbaugh, how long has it been going on for?
It's also fair to wonder which "face of the 49ers" have an issue with coach. Which side of the ball has the bigger problem? All of that talk is pure speculation, but it is certainly worth monitoring.
Also, does this hurt San Francisco this offseason? In a year when the 49ers are desperately trying to beat out the Seattle Seahawks in the arms race of the West, will free agents be worried about signing a long-term deal not knowing if Harbaugh has one foot out the door? If the free agent is being pursued by both Seattle and San Francisco, the harmony of the Great Northwest compared to the dysfunction in San Fran could be the difference.
Harbaugh signed a five-year deal when he came to the 49ers, landing him in an interesting position currently. With only two years left, Harbaugh faces a potential win-now proposition. Should he suffer through a down year because of injury or otherwise, he could become an extremely hot commodity on the trade market next year.
If Jon Gruden, who also had a successful (but not as impressive) track record was traded for two first-round picks and two second-round picks, what is Harbaugh worth?
Should that scenario play out, it would be a brutal fate for 49ers fans. Before Harbaugh arrived, the team had failed to play in a conference title game since 1997. Harbaugh is the first coach since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to advance that deep in the first three years.
Yet Niners Nation isn't too worried about such media reports. After all, winning cures everything:
Clashes are to be expected anywhere there is more than one person in the same place. Even husbands and wives who are in love and live under the same roof will have terrible arguments. The key question to ask is: Are both parties are still achieving the purpose for which they came together? The answer in the case of the 49ers is: they are still winning, and that is what's going to keep Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco. I don't see him as any more difficult to deal with than Bill Walsh was during his tenure and we all know his track record. So am I worried that Jim Harbaugh or Trent Baalke will leave because of all the reports in the media? Not one bit.