Virtually every report at this point has Jed York and Trent Baalke set to successfully woo Stanford Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh and introduced him as the next head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Last night the team officially announced Baalke had been promoted to the head coach position, in a move that was widely expected for much of the last week of Jed York's GM search.
However, given the expected nature of the Baalke hire, it now comes down to when the other shoe drops. The whole search has morphed into a situation that centers around whether or not the team can land Jim Harbaugh. Maybe this isn't the best feeling to have, but does anybody actually care about the GM if the team lands the big fish in Jim Harbaugh? I've added a poll to try and see how people view the hiring separate from the Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes. I suppose in reality they're interconnected, particularly if Harbaugh gets a lot of power like we're hearing, but for now let's just look at Baalke on his own merits (or lackthereof as you see fit).
Now that a GM is hired I would imagine we'll know very soon whether or not the whole process will pay off. Most every twitter feed from a respected or known media member thinks the 49ers land Harbaugh by end of the day today or early tomorrow with a press conference tomorrow to introduce Baalke and Harbaugh. Will we get a shot of Baalke and Harbaugh with fingers locked like we see when a presidential and vice presidential nominee are introduced at a convention? Baalke/Harbaugh 2011!!!
While all this talk about Harbaugh has me excited, I also have been burned enough by this organization to remain skeptical. Normally I'd wait until the press release comes out, but once I see tweets from Maiocco, Barrows, Schefter, etc saying sources indicate the deal is done, I won't get my hopes any further up. However, what's interesting about the whole situation is that Jim Harbaugh now has an insane amount of leverage. Assuming all these reports about 49ers interest are correct, the team is letting everything ride on Harbaugh and the former Captain Comeback (his nickname in Indy) can really get pretty much whatever he wants from the team.
I'd imagine there's some kind of cap on the amount they'll pay Harbaugh, but in terms of power, this is about the ideal situation for Harbaugh. Aside from somehow winning a national title next year at Stanford, I can't imagine Jim Harbaugh's stock will ever be any higher than it is right now. Over at Rule of Tree (our relatively new Stanford blog) they made an excellent point about Jeff Tedford and how his NFL window passed and now it's likely closed for good for the most part.
I bring this all up because I simply wonder how easy it will be to close this deal. I do think it will happen (in spite of numerous burn marks courtesy of the 49ers) but I just am trying not to get ahead of myself. I can't even begin to imagine the level of letdown that would be felt if somehow Harbaugh did not end up coaching the 49ers in 2011. I have to believe this site might implode from within. I've thought numerous things might bring down Niners Nation from within, but not getting Harbaugh might be what does it. Let's pray for the best in this time of 49ers fan need.