Jim Harbaugh

Some media folks have been waiting to tear down Jim Harbaugh since Stanford days

Jim Harbaugh 49ers press conference

“I guess on a professional note, a personal note, something that stood out in my mind — is just how good it’s been to work with all of you, weekly, monthly during an entire season. And, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, professionally, I want to compliment you on just the way you’ve all handled the news, and your accuracy and your professionalism in which you’ve reported it. And I know you don’t take sides or choose up sides. I know you are very eager to be neutral, but I’ve felt that you’ve done it in a very professional way. There wasn’t a time when you tried to divide the team. There was no malice in the way our media handled the season and I appreciate that. I thought it was fair. I thought it was tough at times, but fair, but not divisive. I don’t know if you take that as a compliment or not, but I felt like you were on the 49ers side as much as you could be in your positions. And I appreciate that.”

Jim Harbaugh dropped this ode to the Bay Area media on Jan. 21, in the middle of his last press conference of the season. It was a surreal moment, and more than a few reporters in the Defensive Meeting Room at the 49ers facility in Santa Clara were a little perturbed. Was he kidding? How dare he say that we were “on the 49ers side”? The nerve of this guy.

Since that afternoon, certain members of the media have almost gone out of their way to prove Harbaugh wrong.

A lot of writers share my view of Harbaugh: he’s isn’t just ridiculously entertaining, he’s the best 49ers head coach since George Seifert. But there are a few scribes who not only don’t care about how well the 49ers perform on the field, they cannot stand Harbaugh.

REWIND

I did a little freelance work for CSN in 2011. CSN Northwest wanted every … single … Stanford quote leading up to the Ducks game at Stanford Stadium (Oregon won 53-30, led by 146 rushing yards and three touchdowns for LaMichael James), so I attended Stanford’s weekly media luncheon. The reporters got to pepper the head coach and a few players with some questions, and afterward everyone ate sandwiches. I’m pretty sure the players only took part because they knew about the sandwiches.

Anyway, while we waited for David Shaw to arrive I made small talk with a local veteran reporter.

(No, I’m not going to mention the reporter’s name. Call this an “anonymous source” if you like, but the price for reading a Harbaugh anecdote that’s 100% true is you don’t get to know the reporter’s name. Lo siento.)

I had just introduced myself, nothing more, and the reporter told me how dealing with Shaw is so much better than the same weekly chats with Harbaugh in previous years, because “Harbaugh’s an asshole.”

No smile, either. The anger was real.

BACK TO THE PRESENT

With Harbaugh rubbing so many writers the wrong way, it didn’t take a PhD in communications to predict the media would pounce in a big way once the 49ers had their first three-game losing streak. Problem is, they’re still waiting. And no one waits for anything these days, besides Pliny the Younger.

So Florio’s Browns story turned journalists into gardeners … plantin’ seeds.

Before we get too far down the “let’s tar-and-feather-these-columnists” road, let’s take a look at the playing field. The coaches and players, at least the ones worth writing about consistently, make millions. The scribes make thousands. Coaches and players are under pressure to perform well and win, but their endeavors are supported by millions of fans. No one roots for a writer besides his or her significant other and a few friends who aren’t in the journalism game (writers are friendly with each other by and large, but they’re also quite competitive).

Harbaugh could’ve paved a smoother road for himself by smiling more and providing feature-worthy quotes during those Stanford luncheons and throughout his first couple years with the 49ers.

BREAKING NEWS: Harbaugh doesn’t go through life like most of us, focused on making future situations easier.

Luckily for Harbaugh, the media is nowhere near as ravenous here as it is in New York, Boston, Chicago or Philly. He may have to deal with a column calling for his head here, or a story based on anonymous complaints about his coaching style there, but all it takes is a few well-worded responses to a national writer and the Bay Area problems go away for the most part.

Winning helps, too. It always does.

13 Comments

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13 Comments on "Some media folks have been waiting to tear down Jim Harbaugh since Stanford days"

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sharkfinfan32
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sharkfinfan32

BASportsGuy Names? Or just made up story?

BASportsGuy
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BASportsGuy

sharkfinfan32 huh?

sharkfinfan32
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sharkfinfan32

BASportsGuy so your story about BA sportswriter having an agenda with Harbaugh is made up unless you have specifics

BASportsGuy
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BASportsGuy

sharkfinfan32 Do you mean the part about the writer at the Stanford luncheon, or the several articles about Harbaugh in the past two weeks?

JeffFarrier
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JeffFarrier

BASportsGuy let’s be honest Harbaugh basically thinks BA media are idiots & doesn’t care what they think or write. That riles them up.

Beaver
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Beaver
Totally agree – I have yet to read of specific example of a Harbaugh/Baalke argument or something Harbaugh has said to anyone inside the Niner organization that has rubbed them the wrong way.  Instead, every story takes Harbaugh’s press conference demeanor and tries to project it inside the 49ers building when everyone knows its just an act.  If these “inside sources” can’t provide specific examples of how Jim has turned off his players and the front office this is all just gobble, gobble turkey during a slow news period. PS  Jed was right to take Cleveland’s call – a business owner listens to all… Read more »
JeffFarrier
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JeffFarrier

BASportsGuy Harbaugh’s a rare breed in today’s world. Is condescending to BA media but gets away with it because he is extremely talented

JeffFarrier
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JeffFarrier

BASportsGuy lastly the vitriol directed at Harbaugh by BA media comes off as irresponsible and vindictive when not supported by substance.

sharkfinfan32
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sharkfinfan32

BASportsGuy Not saying it’s bad. But I met Harbaugh and watched him coach in Oak. No someone from SDU and media was pretty act last week

TSL
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TSL

The man is a enigma. Excellent practitioner of his craft, but difficult in his interpersonal skills.

coredump
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coredump

I’ve occasionally wondered if Harbaugh might do better with the east coast “ravenous media” types.  Sometimes it seems like he thinks reporters’ questions are inane and lame, and when they’re in the “how did you feel?” category, it’s hard to disagree.
It’d be interesting to see in any case.  Whereas some of his interactions with bay area media have simply been uncomfortable and painful to hear/watch.

Pulgas de Brent Burns
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Pulgas de Brent Burns

The level of contempt for him in the local media is hilarious. 

The take from most of the national guys is usually something like “What, Harbaugh is hard to work with??? STOP THE PRESSES!!!”. National media is treating all this garbage as a notable story, but not obsessing like our local media is.

Part of me feel like this is part of the NFL’s never ending desire to be in the news during the offseason. Intentional or not, it’s lame.

ThirdNKing
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ThirdNKing

yawn…niners are back on top and everyone is jealous

watch as the raiders pass on jonny football, scrub raiders

if the league passes on him, DRAFT HIM IN THE 1ST ROUND NINERS…PERIOD

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