The San Francisco 49ers went through controversy a few weeks back when word got out that the Cleveland Browns had approached them about a trade for Jim Harbaugh. The national media jumped on it as a sign of discord in the front office, and this led to a host of reports of problems in the front office, and a seemingly inevitable lead to the departure of Jim Harbaugh. Coach Harbaugh eventually spoke with Sports Illustrated to clear the air, and the reports have since died down.
Coach Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke are both in Orlando, Florida for this week's annual owners meetings, and both have provided some commentary on the situation. While we don't know what the long-term future holds for this relationship, for the upcoming season, both men seem all-in, and ready to move past the distractions.
Baalke spoke with CSN Bay Area Sunday afternoon, during which he pointed to this being a media-driven controversy (shocking, I know!):
"Jim and I work very well together," Baalke said. "I think a lot of that is media-driven. A lot of it is speculation. Maybe it's the desires of others that we don't work well together, but that's not the case internally."
Jim Harbaugh spoke with NFL Netowrk's Steve Wyche about the controversy as well. Wyche asked him about the rumored trade discussion, and what exactly was going on:
"There was zero chance of me leaving the San Francisco 49ers. Because I love coaching my team too much. It's a joy to coach my players, I love 'em, I love our coaches and I love the organization that I serve. That story has been reported."
He also joked about how it wasn't his first "mini-controversy", and he treats them with the respect they deserve.
Jim Harbaugh is currently under contract through the 2015 season. We've seen rumors surface about the Browns, USC, Texas, and even the Miami Dolphins as potential landing spots at some point. Thankfully, once free agency got started, things quieted own to a certain extent. It's not surprising the issue pops back up when media get an opportunity to speak with Harbaugh and Baalke. However, while we'll get questions on it, I have to think for at least this offseason, the controversy is mostly dead. People will occasionally try and give it some CPR, but for now, there is not much to it.
The next question is still what will happen with a contract extension for Jim Harbaugh. His assistants all appear to be signed through 2015, like him, so the next step is extensions beyond that. Ideally something happens this offseason, but my guess is that if there an extension, it won't happen until next offseason. If the 49ers win the Super Bowl, I continue to argue it makes things easier. If the 49ers do not win the Super Bowl, I'm not entirely sure what then happens.