Among all the deals that need to be made, the players that need to be signed, the impending draft, and the recent heartbreaking losses, we haven’t heard from Young Jed, the not-so-erstwhile owner of your San Francisco 49ers. I mention this because, at least in my mind, there seems to be trouble brewing. Nothing major, not at this point, but I think there are issues behind the scenes with the direction of this offense, and with the power structure in the front office.
No one has come out and said anything, but there are intimations from some of the writers that Harbaugh was not happy with the direction of the play calling as the season wore on. He supposedly took a more active role from Greg Roman as the season wore on, for good or ill. Then you have the ‘creative tensions’ between Harbaugh and Trent Baalke. Harbaugh certainly wasn’t impressed with AJ Jenkins as he rarely saw the field, and other highly regarded players (see: LMJ) have languished on the sidelines to the point of distraction. Then you have Jed York and Baalke both saying that Aldon Smith would ‘play sparingly’ after the DUI arrest, yet Harbaugh used him on all the defensive plays vs Indy. The whole Eric Mangini Experience was a black hole of nothingness, and this offense once again sputtered and stalled at the worst possible time and came up short.
Add to this the fact that Jim Harbaugh is in line for a contract extension. He is now behind Jeff Fisher of StL ($7 mill) and Super Bowl winner Pete the Cheat Carroll ($6 mill). One would think he’d like to ratchet that up a bit to be in line with the elite coaches. Say $7.5 mill a year. You have to wonder if he’d like more control over the draft than how the balance is currently established, with Baalke having the final say. Will he parlay his success to gain more control? Or will he do what his recent history suggests and put on his travelling shoes? The University of Texas made a push for Harbaugh last December, and while it seemed implausible then, who’s to say he may not want to give it a shot back in college?
I think Jed has the utmost respect for Harbaugh, but you really have to wonder how Jim plays this. The Colin Kaepernick extension (and all the rest of the players after him) could very well depend on the Niners signing Harbaugh to an extension. Jed isn’t one to swing his dick around, but if Jed has a mind that he wants more offense rather than the Michigan offense we seem to be channelling, I wonder if he would hire a new more pass oriented OC and see how Harbaugh reacts. Or will Jed simply let the contract issue slide for one more season and play the string out to see what the team does?Harbaugh still has 2 more seasons under contract, and a lot can change from now to the end of the 2015 season.
I seriously doubt this doom-and-gloom shit happens, but really, this is a team in flux with all the players on the edge of free agency, and these undercurrents of a power struggle between Harbaugh, Baalke, and possibly York as Harbaugh seems to want more control over personnel decisions. It certainly puts the fact that guys like AJ Jenkins and LMJ get left out of the rotation as guys around them get hurt and they still don’t see the field of play in a different light.