Jim Harbaugh

Report: Harbaugh and Baalke are “barely speaking”

Jim Harbaugh Oakland A's hat

An article by Matt Barrows earlier today brought some calm and order to the Jim Harbaugh saga. To summarize Barrows’ report, the Browns called the 49ers to discuss Greg Roman and Jim Tomsula. The conversation veered to the fast lane (Harbaugh), and the Browns made an offer. The 49ers “rebuffed” said offer, and that was that.

Jason La Canfora, an NFL reporter for CBS Sports (who’s known by many as the draft pick spoiler guy on Twitter), filed a report two and a half hours after Barrows’ suggesting the 49ers might find themselves needing to choose between Harbaugh and 49ers GM Trent Baalke.

The idea of tension between those two is nothing new. Tim Kawakami was the first to write about their strained relationship back in December, and York admitted that the Harbaugh and Baalke have been known to “butt heads” from time to time. However, La Canfora’s report takes the perceived rift to an entirely different level.

The men are barely speaking, I’m told, and almost all communication is through email. Harbaugh also has a strained relationship with team president Paraag Marathe, sources said, and he has clashed with many within the organization. It could prove untenable. If anything, the impression I got this week was that the situation there is actually much worse than how it has been portrayed in the media, and helps explain the delay in giving a new deal to the coach, who has two years left on a contract he has outperformed.

I’ve seen Baalke in the same area as Harbaugh about a dozen times over the past year, with Baalke either high-fiving and talking to players before games or quietly observing the action on the practice field during the summer months. I never saw the two walk within 50 feet of each other, let alone speak in 2013. However, it never crossed my mind that anything was wrong with that arrangement for a few reasons:

  1. Harbaugh was busy coaching.
  2. Most practices are closed to the media.
  3. I’m not privy to what happens inside 49ers headquarters.

How critical is it for a head coach and general manager to like each other? It’s probably less important than clearheaded and logical decision-making, but anger and frustration can turn intelligent people into irrational combatants.

With this story stubbornly refusing to fizzle away over the weekend, the only way the 49ers can convince the public that harmony is present, or even possible, is if Harbaugh and Baalke both make definitive statements describing how much they enjoy working with one another. Since neither man is comfortable being publicly introspective, that’s probably not going to happen. 

If the power struggle is real, both men will dig in and see who Jed York chooses. York, whether he gave much thought to the Browns’ offer for Harbaugh or not, is going to have to decide whether the smart move is to either give Harbaugh a raise, facilitate his early exit, or let the situation play out and hope all parties can figure out a way to resolve their differences amicably. If York chooses the last option, he better prepare for more stories like La Canfora’s and further questioning of his organization’s stability. The media smells blood, and there’s still plenty of offseason left.

52 Comments
52 comments
justme21
justme21

Well, according to Andrea The Astrologer, Harbaugh's a Leo and conversation is basically borked till after the 28th, so we'll see what happens over the weekend. ;-) 

thesntoday
thesntoday

@BASportsGuy I wonder how this ends. It could be a leverage game or Harbaugh leaving. This will be ridiculous until a contract is done.

Slam
Slam

1. This is a real significant test for Jed York.

2. Are Baalke's / Harbaugh's roles clearly defined? Bruce Allen worked for Jon Gruden in Oakland, and they made a great team.

3. The traits that make Harbaugh a maniacal win-win-win Head Coach probably make him really difficult to work with in the front office. His strengths are also his weaknesses.

4. If I'm Jed York, I fire Baalke, and let JH hire his own GM, and I'd give JH a big fat raise. HC salaries do not count against the salary cap.

5. IMO This story has legs. It's real.

paperback writer
paperback writer

Harbough, Blake , Jed are all big boys - put the responsibility on them.

Crying about the media doing it is lame, hate a free press? There's a dictator - led country waiting for you.

rjrcpa10
rjrcpa10

@BASportsGuy Is Jim trying to get Baalke out of there and have his buddy Lombardi brought in?

TeddyVerdun
TeddyVerdun

@BASportsGuy What about Tomsula being the replacement? What makes his experience any different than that of Singletary's?

AttyCCN
AttyCCN

@BASportsGuy woulda been easier if Jed and Baalke had scored some picks to get us out of this mess!

jlcritser
jlcritser

To be honest, I think Michael Lombardi should have been hired insteae of Baalke. Baalke has a good eye for talent but not getting along with wildly successful Jim Harbaugh is like throwing a bone to the frothy pitbulls ready to attack, can't Baalke do better than that, by conceding some personnel decisions to Harbaugh? It is Harbaugh's team after all, and his job to win the Super Bowl. Baalke's job is to help facilitate Harbaugh's vision.

JayTWasHere
JayTWasHere

If Harbaugh ends up leaving SF, I'm going to blame the local media for adding pressure to this whole situation.  Seriously, please just let it go.

Eric
Eric

  Not being a 49er fan, It is incredibly funny that local media seems intent on 'exposing' supposed rifts, based solely on rumors. Harbaugh never says anything of substance regarding any subject, and with everything closed to the media, there is really zero substance to the issue.Yes, John makes more money, and has a ring...he's been coaching a lot longer in the NFL. Jim Harbaugh still has a deal in place, and I'm sure he'd like to lock up an extension at more money. I'm sure Baalke and Harbaugh butt heads, especially regarding offensive personnel. None of these things are revolutionary with a fiery coach.

    The fact that this is the most successful run of Forty Niner football since the early 90's, almost makes me think that there is a general nervousness about it ending, and that people are looking for cracks, just to say "See, there's one!" It started with people criticizing CK, lamenting he wasn't as good as last year, then it progressed to trading Jimmy, and suddenly the sky is falling.


   The media has a duty to report, and I'm sure Cleveland made overtures, but unless there is something more solid that journalists lobbing tweets and unsubstantiated rumors, then this may be a case of chicken little. It would be a shame if trolling eroded a very successful coaching staff.  It would also be a case of hubris to think that Harbaugh is replaceable, considering the York track record before Jim came on board. 


   Its time to move along on this, until someone other than Cam Inman, or Jason La Canfora try to grab pub with speculative, and self serving tidbits.

paperback writer
paperback writer

Jim Harbough' brother, Coach John has a Super Bowl Ring and a higher salary - me thinks this is KILLING Jimmy!

Quick, Jed, make a coach's swap with Baltimore for John! LOL

coredump
coredump

Curious; you folks that are afraid of losing Harbaugh, is it because the Niners have likely internal candidates in Roman, Fangio, and possibly Tomsula and Mangini waiting, and they are viewed as severe downgrades?

What if it were known that several "big name" coaches were interested in coming to the Niners, eg. Gruden, Cowher, David Shaw locally, etc.  Would that lessen your fear of losing Harbaugh?

Lime
Lime

When is Festus Ezili coming back?

189133
189133

@BASportsGuy Personality the issue? Or personnel decisions? If latter, which ones?

laughlikeahyena
laughlikeahyena

What happened with AJ Jenkins? Baalke cut bait right away. He wanted Dalton, Harbaugh wanted Kap. Baalke has demonstrated he will put his ego aside for the good of the team and listen/get input from Harbaugh.


When this story was first reported, it was reported that Harbaugh himself wanted the job and then was the one to turn it down.  That's strange that the man who wanted the job, suddenly doesn't want it. It was even reported that Harbaugh and Paraag's relationship is strained. 


This is all just maneuvers between Harbaugh's agent and the 49ers front office on contract extensions.  

BRIANisCOTTON
BRIANisCOTTON

@BASportsGuy this is so stupid. Not your specific article BSSG, but the people running with these rumors. Almost funny at this point.

laughlikeahyena
laughlikeahyena

I wouldn't be surprised if the anonymous source close to the situation was Harbaugh's agent. Probably to angle for contract extension talks to get serious. The two main sticking points are more money and more say in personnel for Harbaugh.

TSL
TSL

This story/melodrama is getting more interesting by the minute.

greebs
greebs

@BASportsGuy Do you really think it's too toxic to matter? I just ... don't. Maybe wishful thinking but have to be able to work it out.

AdrianReynolds
AdrianReynolds

David Shaw thought bubble: ________________________

davidepedroli
davidepedroli

@BASportsGuy why give this any energy? LaConfora was the guy who said we weren't getting him in the first place!

BASportsGuy
BASportsGuy

@rjrcpa10 No way that happens after the Browns story blew up this weekend. Also, Lombardi took a job with the Patriots.

JayTWasHere
JayTWasHere

Also, only an idiot would take the personnel guy over a good coach.  Tons of talent without a good coach gives you a team like the Detroit Lions the past few seasons.  If Harbaugh was on the open market there would be a feeding frenzy of teams trying to sign him.

jeffreylowy
jeffreylowy

@Eric  "It would also be a case of hubris to think that Harbaugh is replaceable, considering the York track record before Jim came on board."

Nailed it.

BASportsGuy
BASportsGuy

@greebs It seems like all this noise is building to a crescendo. I have no idea what's going to happen, though.

rjrcpa10
rjrcpa10

@BASportsGuy Ah ok-thanks. I didn't keep up there. Biggest problem: Jim and Trent seem to disagree on personnel quite often.

coredump
coredump

... and he's 1-0 as the Niners (admittedly interim) head coach.  :-)

TeddyVerdun
TeddyVerdun

@BASportsGuy And would you assume Harb would take most of his coaching staff with him to another team?

greebs
greebs

@BASportsGuy I feel like it could easily crescend to ... a long term extension with Harbaugh. And Baalke staying put.

What is Bay Area Sports Guy?

It is the top independent sports site covering the teams that play in the best sports region in the United States. BASG is not an ordinary fan blog. It is a place where sports news is broken and analyzed by writers with access who are not afraid to question the status quo, writers who also produce original content in the form of videos, photographs and podcasts.

Questions/Comments? Email basg@bayareasportsguy.com

Sign up for our mailing list.



Copyright © 2016 - Bay Area Sports Guy. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy Terms of Use and BASG Shop Terms

To Top