Will the Jim Harbaugh Saga affect the San Francisco 49ers’ 2014 Season?

jim-harbaugh-49ers-turmoilIt wasn’t long ago that controversy erupted in San Francisco after it became public knowledge that the 49ers were discussing a potential trade with Cleveland, whereby their coach would go to the hapless Browns. Harbaugh has been visibly disappointed over his lack of a big contract extension, while GM Trent Baalke is very reluctant to give it to him. Now, we have reports that the dissension in the San Francisco locker room may be growing after the Harbaugh trade talks.

Andy Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, “One source with inside knowledge of the team says that Harbaugh’s act has worn thin in the locker room, particularly among some key ‘face of the 49ers’ type players.”

So not only do we have a rift between Harbaugh and Baalke, but some of the players are allegedly tired of their coach’s hard-driving style. Putting two and two together, it becomes even murkier if Harbaugh will get the contract he wants and if the 49ers can continue their run of success.

Regarding the first point, the obvious reason why Baalke isn’t budging on the contract issue is because Harbaugh hasn’t won a Super Bowl yet. After signing a five-year, $25 million contract, he transformed a middling team that was going nowhere into a Super Bowl contender, going 36-11-1 over the past three years. More importantly, Harbaugh has made it to three straight NFC Championship games with a Super Bowl appearance two seasons ago. But the fact remains that, unlike New Orleans’ Sean Payton ($8 million a year) or Seattle’s Pete Carroll ($7 million a year), he hasn’t won a Super Bowl yet.

jim-harbaugh-49ers-turmoil-1Harbaugh has been close, coming within a drive of winning the 2013 Super Bowl, and coming within a single throw of making back to the Super Bowl in 2014. However, until he actually brings a Lombardi Trophy to the Bay Area, Baalke can’t see paying him more than Carroll or Payton. On the other hand, Harbaugh is the one who did what Mike Singletary failed miserably in doing: turning a talented roster into a winning football team.

Assuming San Francisco doesn’t give Harbaugh an extension, the Niners will still be good in 2014. They return a number of strong players and ironed out some problems on offense throughout last season. But if you’re looking to place a futures bet on San Francisco winning the Super Bowl, we doubt that you’ll get odds that will make this wager profitable.

At the moment, it just seems like there’s too much turmoil surrounding this team in the offseason. And with certain players already looking for a different voice in the 49ers’ locker room, it’s tough to predict another NFC Championship game run for San Francisco – let alone a Super Bowl victory.

2014 Super Bowl Outcome Likely to change Future of NFL Teams

cliff-avril-seattleIn a day and age where NFL teams desperately reach for the next great quarterback while ignoring the rest of their roster, the Seattle Seahawks are an anomaly. Their GM, Joe Schneider, in collaboration with head coach Pete Carroll, took no shortcuts en route to transforming a middling team with no identity into the powerhouse that destroyed Denver 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The league definitely took notice of this spectacle, as Seattle’s tall, lengthy corners, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, held the Broncos’ star-studded receiving corp in check. The league saw safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas make crushing hits whenever Peyton Manning did find his receivers for mostly harmless chunks of yards. They watched as Seattle’s pass rushers, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Red Bryant, completely took one of history’s greatest quarterbacks out of his comfort zone. They witnessed the Seahawks’ offensive stars, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, make huge plays whenever they were needed. And now, the league is going to act on what they saw in the 2014 Super Bowl.

You can count on a dozen or more teams working to build a roster that’s more akin to Seattle. And this means that defensive players will gain a little more value this offseason. Greg Hardy, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are all set to make far more money this summer thanks to the Seattle Seahawks.

richard-sherman-seattleTeams have already been gravitating towards quarterbacks who can throw on the run. However, guys like Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater gain even more value in the draft after Wilson helped lead Seattle to a championship. Furthermore, the prototypical height requirement of 6’3″ or taller is diminished because of the 5’11” Wilson.

Running back committees have almost become automatic in this day and age. But when looking at the success Seattle had with a bruising, workhorse back like Lynch and a competent backup in Robert Turbin, getting somebody who can carry the load will be of extreme importance.

The Seahawks have definitely created the template here. And multiple teams will now be hoping to emulate Seattle’s roster. Obviously some organizations will fail badly at doing so. Others might achieve the success of San Francisco and Carolina, which are both very similar to Seattle. But will anybody be able to reach the heights that the Seahawks did this year? Or will it be the team from the Pacific Northwest repeating again as champs? You can bet that this will be a busy offseason as teams try to prevent the latter from happening again.