Hello there, NinersNation.
I have been relatively quiet during this whole Harbaughmania (meaning I haven't written a single word in any of the threads). My main reason for not doing so is my total lack of knowledge in terms of college football, which is even less present here in Germany than the NFL. So I didn't know what to think of Harbaugh and the craze surrounding him.
But my distance from the current events might not be such a bad thing after all, because it allowed me to come up with an unconventional solution to the whole mess.
Now that the Dolphins are apparently out of the picture, we seem to be competing with Stanford for Harbaugh's services. Why not let them pay 7m for one year of Harbaugh and sign him to a future contract starting in 2012 (which might be conditional, depending on a new CBA being in place)?
Stanford should be fine with this, because with Luck gone in a year, their window of opportunity seems to be closing anyway, and it would allow them to take one serious shot at a national championship with their proven Coach-QB tandem. They have to know they won't be able to keep him forever.
Harbaugh has the chance to win a title before leaving the College ranks, securing his desired NFL coaching gig in the process.
The Niners get the coach they want plus one year to prepare for his arrival, meaning they can stockpile 2012 picks during this year's draft in order to take a serious shot at #1 overall (Luck) next year. They're not on the hook for an insane amount of money in a year that (heaven forbid) might not even have football. We might even get Harbaugh at a (relative) discount for giving him the opportunity to win a championship before joining the 49ers.
Now, the catch would be to find a coach who is willing to fulfill a caretaker role waiting for Harbaugh, having to resign or take a step back after possibly having had a good season and reaching the playoffs. Good thing is: The one perfect guy for such a season is already on staff.
I'm convinced Jim Tomsula would do a great job, and by giving him the DL job on Harbaugh's staff plus an Assistant HC title (assuming Harbaugh would be fine with that), you would also address the lame duck effect that often arises among players when they know a coach will be leaving soon.
You would also have to find a caretaker QB for a year or (more probably) two. I'd say: Bring back Alex Smith. He's actually shown flashes of competence under Mike Johnson, he's been a class act professional during his tenure, and his experience with the pressure of being #1 overall might be invaluable to Luck.
Most probably, it won't happen this way. It's just too far-fetched. But still, I'd like to know what you think. Could it work?
Also, as a German, I don't have the vast amount of sports trivia knowledge most of you guys do, so I haven't got a clue if something like this has ever been done in the NFL or any other major league. Has it? And if so, how did it work out?