Despite making the NFC championship game three consecutive times and taking the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl for the first time in almost 20 years, the relationship between Jim Harbaugh and the team seems to be deteriorating to the point where him being fired if the 2014 NFL season doesn’t start out too well isn’t out of the question.
The big bomb dropped on everyone came when it became public knowledge that the Cleveland Browns were trying to trade for Harbaugh. It doesn’t really matter that the 49ers refused. The fact that they denied initially and probably considered it tells everyone all they need to know – Harbaugh and the organization seem to be on a collision path, and all the success in the world (unless he wins a Super Bowl) isn’t going to take away the bad taste in the mouths of everybody.
Interestingly enough, it’s not just general manager Trent Baalke that Harbaugh doesn’t get along with. According to the SFGate, some players have had enough of Harbaugh’s intensity, behavior and antics. It’s not hard to see that Harbaugh doesn’t take anything lightly, but it’s also hard to argue with his record and success. However, most seem to agree that coaching and creating a high-strung environment to work and succeed in can’t last for very long.
Maybe these are leaks from the team as Harbaugh, who has two more years left on his contract, wants an extension and renegotiation. The 49ers, obviously, don’t feel like they should make him the highest paid head coach in the league; not until he wins a Super Bowl.
Harbaugh knows that this team has a window, like all NFL teams (almost all of them), to win this Super Bowl. One more good year, two more, but a decline is going to come at some point (if it hasn’t already begun). He also knows that his best shot at winning a Super Bowl at the moment is staying with the 49ers, so he isn’t going to pack up his things and leave because not everyone agrees with him.
But after three consecutive years of conference championship games and posting a 36-11-1 record in the regular season and 5-3 in the playoffs, Harbaugh seems closer to the door than to a more permanent stay. Maybe that’s just who he is, having to keep things tense, and by that also motivating and getting the best from his player. But instead of being in a position of security and confidence, the 2014 NFL season will begin with the head coach of the 49ers in a situation of distrust and suspicion, possibly working towards the inevitable firing under the right circumstances.