Jim Harbaugh almost left the San Francisco 49ers this offseason via a trade that would have sent him to the Cleveland Browns for multiple draft picks, Pro Football Talk reports. Apparently, Harbaugh pulled out at the last minute. The whole ordeal apparently arose from the contentious contract negotiations between the two sides. Harbaugh, having reached the NFC Championship Game in each of his first three years, wants to be paid among the top coaches in the NFL. The 49ers do not wish to pay him a salary at that level unless he wins a Super Bowl. Though neither side will comment, Matt Maiocco the 49ers offered Harbaugh a contract with less guaranteed money and fewer years than Harbaugh wants, though it would allow him to reach the top pay echelon should he win the Super Bowl. Harbaugh feels he deserves the money already. Harbaugh makes about $5 million a year plus $1 million or so on top of that in endorsements.
The last time a coach was dealt from one team to another was Jon Gruden‘s Oakland to Tampa Bay switcheroo over a decade ago. We all know how that turned out, with Gruden’s new team defeating the old one in the next Super Bowl. It would have been a shocking development, most of all for us 49er fans and Harbaugh devotees, should he have left. It would take an astronomical amount of draft picks for me to even think it could remotely be worth it, as Harbaugh has taken this team from quite poor to quite good.
What should 49er fans take from this? That contract negotiations are vicious beasts. The 49ers do not like to overpay–for players or apparently for top coaches. I do think that Harbaugh will eventually get a new contract, and hopefully before his current one ends, but in the meantime, Trent Baalke has some player contracts to make agents mad over.