It 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.
Harbaugh 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.