Jim Harbaugh

A couple misconceptions about Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh Colin Kaepernick black no. 7 jersey

We interrupt your regularly scheduled panic attack to discuss a couple ideas about Jim Harbaugh that are almost certainly overblown.

Oh, that Jimmy — he can’t stay in one place too long!

  • University of San Diego: three years
  • Stanford University: four years
  • San Francisco 49ers: three years and counting(???)

If Harbaugh had a chance to leave USD and didn’t, wouldn’t that’ve made him crazier than some people already think he is? Ditto for Stanford. Beyond winning a Rose Bowl or a BCS Championship, what left was there to accomplish? People are seeing a “pattern” where this  isn’t one; these are promotions any coach would’ve accepted without thinking twice. He left both schools for jobs that offered more prestige and money.

If Harbaugh did leave the 49ers either before or after the 2014 season, then coached for only three or four years in say, Miami, then the pattern-pushers would have something. At this point, the idea that Harbaugh gets job claustrophobia every few seasons is nothing more than speculation. Which brings us to our next questionable assumption about Harbaugh …

Harbaugh drives everyone crazy. Not just Trent Baalke or Paraag Marathe. EVERYONE.

It seems clear that Harbaugh and Baalke have their differences. While Jason La Canfora’s report that the two are “barely speaking” and do almost all their communication via email could be an exaggeration, there have probably been some days where the two have clashed and gone a few days without chatting face-to-face.

But this idea that the players are sick of working with Harbaugh is completely baseless. Besides a couple former Stanford players (who ended up playing for Harbaugh’s biggest personal rival in Pete Carroll, and the 49ers’ biggest rival in the Seahawks) and two disgruntled running backs (Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James), there isn’t much evidence that guys detest playing under Harbaugh.

Guys like Baalke and Marathe are power players. They don’t want to be “coached,” and Harbaugh seems like the kind of guy who coaches everyone he comes in contact with. (Hopefully his wife, Sarah, is the one person who escapes that part of his personality.) The front office probably doesn’t like it when Harbaugh makes comments about other players and coaches, like the “come with some knuckles” remark about Clay Matthews. Since Baalke enjoys a good working relationship with the Packers, that probably ruffled some feathers upstairs.

But intense, loud, manic, unpredictable coaches are nothing new to the players who get to this level. Most of these guys surely played for a coach they didn’t necessarily like in pop warner, high school, college, or with a different NFL team. As long as the head coach and the rest of his staff can help a player get better, win more games, and earn the money that comes with individual improvement and victories, players will deal with pretty much anything. They’ll take a gruff coach with skills over a laid back doofus any day of the week (and twice on Sunday).

Besides, Harbaugh seems most at peace on the field, teaching. Maybe he’s a menace in the meeting rooms (though it seems like that would’ve leaked out by now). But as long as the players are treated with respect — and they all seem to appreciate that Harbaugh was a former player, and that probably goes along with how he treats them — players aren’t going to march into Baalke’s office and say “it’s either me or him” in regards to Harbaugh.

Baalke himself may be a different story. We’ll see. But if Harbaugh ends up leaving before his contract with the 49ers is up, it won’t be because he’s got some weird “itch” to bounce around from job to job or because the players have had it with his coaching style.

20 Comments
20 comments
JohnLee5
JohnLee5

Best article ever written by BASG.

SFF49JYP4L
SFF49JYP4L

I don't think there's many people that would opt to work with a nice guy who gets average results over an asshole that gets outstanding results. I work with difficult people at my job, and part of the reason they can do that is because they're excellent at what they do. That's true in pretty much every business, not just the NFL.

SFF49JYP4L
SFF49JYP4L

Very few of the greats don't rub a lot of people the wrong way. Bill Walsh was well liked, but he clashed with Eddie D and others because he was as ruthless as they came. Most of the guys who are beloved by all also had to move on as well (see: Dungy). 


If everyone loves your coach and he doesn't grate anyone, he'd damn well better be winning and a lot. Otherwise, I'd say it's a sign that he's not doing his job well enough.

iho
iho

Has Harbaugh ever publicly said anything negative about any player on his team? 


Has Harbaugh ever publicly said anything negative about players from other teams other than after they have attacked members of his team.


Perhaps you can find an example of this, but probably not, and certainly not many.


The only PUBLIC crime Harbaugh ever commits is getting-too-excited-on-the-sideline.

BASportsGuy
BASportsGuy

@dgiuli1 Who would turn down Stanford after three years at USD? Who would turn down 49ers after four years at Stanford?

SFF49JYP4L
SFF49JYP4L

@dgiuli1 @BASportsGuy  So you're saying he left those because of his grating personality? Had nothing to do with the fact that they were both major upgrades?

JohnLee5
JohnLee5

@dgiuli1 @BASportsGuy  dgiuli you are an idiot.  Go to Wikipedia, check out every single coach in the NFL or a BCS conference.  Every single one of them who has coached 10 or more years has the same career arc as Jim Harbaugh at the beginning of their career.  Example: Nick Saban- Kent State (72-76); Syracuse (77); West Virginia (78-79); Ohio State (80-81); Saban's head-coaching career has the same arc.  Pick anyone who is coaching in the last 20 years, it is the same pattern.  So the Tim Kawakami's stupid theory is just not factual.  Dumb, and so typical of Kawasashimi's own idiocy theory.

LombardiESPN
LombardiESPN

@BASportsGuy ever since I met Harbaugh, I've thought he was "consumed by football." Good for on-field success, but can strain relationships.

LombardiESPN
LombardiESPN

@BASportsGuy exactly. It was the same way at Stanford. Some were glad he left, but almost all thankful for his unique contribution

BASportsGuy
BASportsGuy

@DavidMLombardi Relationships have definitely been strained, but I don't get the feeling that the players are ready to stage a mutiny.

DrewShiller
DrewShiller

@DavidMLombardi For sure. I just don't think the "he doesn't stay in any one place for long" narrative is applicable for Harbaugh ... yet

Sunset Boy
Sunset Boy

Well done. I appreciate it when someone doesn't just go along with the typical media laziness and resort to the oversimplified clichés and buzzwords that get thrown around far too easily. Its like one media member states a theory and all the other talking heads regurgitate it like so many lemmings and suddenly it becomes gospel -- instead of taking the time to actually look into the matter itself.

There's no doubt that Harbaugh is an edgy, strong headed guy. But success has followed him everywhere for a reason. 

I think this clip gives some great insight into Harbaugh's teaching/coaching methods. Maybe he's changed, I dunno, but this sounds like someone who loves teaching and is passionate about football. Not the a-hole that you see during a press conference.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7-9kQJ1_sI

StanLee16
StanLee16

Both Sherman and Jacobs have histories of being opinionated players.  For every player that speaks negatively about Harbaugh, there's a handful who say otherwise.  In the NFL, it comes down to wins and losses and there aren't many who are better than Harbaugh.  


Not that I think Harbaugh is going anywhere, but should the Niners replace him, they're not going to hire another college coach to replace him.  It will be a big-name coach (Gruden, Cowher, etc) who will also command a large salary.  Also, there's ZERO chance the Niners let Harbaugh walk after his contract as they don't want him ending up across the Bay.  


Harbaugh isn't going anywhere anytime soon.  Relax bloggers and media people.  If anyone goes it's Baalke.  His last 19 picks have resulted in ONE starting player.  However, he's signed through 2016 and won't be going anywhere either.  

  

Dan
Dan

First, I don't doubt the media stuff has gone into overdrive with speculation and such.


But past that, I don't think you can dismiss the parade of disgruntled former players......and by the way, you can add Alex Smith to that list, he's just not vocal about it.  Not hard to imagine why players don't say anything bad while they're still in his employ, but just an unusual number have bad things to say afterward.

iho
iho

@Dan

This sounds like silly speculation.  Alex Smith is disgruntled because you say so.  Yea, that's very convincing.

AdrianReynolds
AdrianReynolds

Maybe Baalke's the real agitator, we just don't know because he hides behind his curtain, like the Wizard of Oz.

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