Since the bombshell news was reported over the weekend that Jim Harbaugh was almost traded to the Cleveland Browns, each day the story grows more intriguing. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the University of Southern California also tried hiring Harbaugh as their football coach.
What I learned this week looking into the Jim Harbaugh situation: Along with the #Browns and University of Texas, USC also made a run at him
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 24, 2014
Harbaugh reportedly “flat out rejected USC.”
If you are keeping count, that makes three teams — one at the pro level and two at the college level — who looked at trying to hire Harbaugh away from the 49ers. In addition to the Browns and USC, the University of Texas also had Harbaugh on their radar.
What this tells you is that Harbaugh is one of the most sought-after head coaches in the NFL and college, despite him having two years left on his contract. However, this also shows the tension that exists between Harbaugh and people in the front office, like general manager Trent Baalke and team President Paraag Marathe.
No matter what happens, in the end Harbaugh will be the only winner. He will either get a huge new contract from the 49ers, possibly a deal which will make him one of the highest paid coaches in the NFL. Or, another team will try to make a run at Harbaugh offering multiple draft picks like the Browns did and actually hire him away with promise of the money he thinks he is due. This assumes that 49ers CEO Jed York will side with GM Trent Baalke, forcing Harbaugh out the door.
The way I believe everything will play out is York will keep both Harbaugh and Baalke. York will give Harbaugh close to the money he is looking for with a contract extension. York will tell Harbaugh and Baalke to shallow some of their ego and learn to work together, like grown adults. The only other option for the 49ers is to let go of either Harbaugh or Baalke. No matter who York would let go, the team will be thrown into disarray and everyone, except Harbaugh, would lose.