What if Jim Harbaugh’s team gets blown out tonight? No, seriously. What if Stanford comes out tonight and gets massacred in the Orange Bowl by Va. Tech? Something like 49-3, with Andrew Luck throwing several interceptions, Stanford getting called for tons of penalties and Jon Gruden saying stuff like, “Well, Jim Harbaugh will certainly have better days. Perhaps this will encourage him to stay with Stanford and get a little experience under his belt before competing for big-boy jobs with me and Brian Billick!”
Okay, perhaps this picture I’m painting is a bit far-fetched. Stanford isn’t favored by 4 points against a team playing in its own time zone for nothing. But it’s interesting to wonder what would happen if Harbaugh made his first misstep in his coaching career, right before Michigan and anywhere from one to a dozen NFL teams are ready to pounce on him. Because right now, he’s pretty much Bill Walsh in more comfortable clothing.
For 49ers fans, this is the only thing keeping them going. Sure, there are some out there who’d be happy with one of the retreads (Gruden, Brian Billick or Jeff Fisher … who all have one thing in common: as head coach they all had crappy offenses), but most people are hoping for the crazy guy who I recently saw slip and fall in the mud in front of the tunnel giving a pregame pep talk, he was so excited.
And people around here are so excited about Harbaugh that they tried to convince themselves that a title change for Trent Baalke meant something (THEY HAVE THE SAME AGENT!). Now, the rumor has shifted a bit. It’s been a while since we all resigned ourselves to welcoming back Baalke with the same hug he used to give Larry when they would do the “Dance of Joy” (sorry, I promise no more Perfect Strangers references from now on for the youngsters in the audience), and Baalke still hasn’t been named GM. In fact, Pro Football Talk says the smart money may be on a Michael Lombardi/Harbaugh combo.
A league source was expressing to us a very strong feeling/hunch that Harbaugh would be paired not with Baalke but with NFL Networkâ€™s Michael Lombardi.
â€œLombardi and Harbaugh have a close relationship,â€ the source said, pointing out that they worked together in Oakland.Â â€œI think Lombardi is ending up there.â€
Hey, since last week Lombardi himself said that the job was Baalke’s to lose, it’s grain-of-salt time. But after another strange year in Ninerland, any news like this is positive. I have no idea if Harbaugh has what it takes to coach an NFL team to greatness, but I’d much rather watch him try than see some guy trying to recreate something he did in Tampa Bay, Baltimore or Tennessee.