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.

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