The San Francisco 49ers are officially playing out the string, which means the drama of Jim Harbaugh, Jed York and Trent Baalke is seemingly entering its final resolution. I say seemingly because if the two sides part ways, it opens up the whole separate story arc that is the coaching search.
Over the course of this weekend, the silly season of the next head coach has officially begun. Various reports have indicated both Mike Holmgren and Jon Gruden have expressed interest in the 49ers head coaching job, should it become available. The Holmgren report came on Sunday from friend of the site Bay Area Sports Guy. He broke the Colin Kaepernick contract extension news this summer, and has nailed a few other scoops. The Gruden news came on Friday from former NN writer Vincent Frank for another site where he is currently writing.
The Holmgren report is not surprising. He has been out of the game for a while now, but he is a Bay Area native, a one-time quarterback guru, and of course has an extensive history with the 49ers. He is coaching in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl next month, which does not mean he is ready to get back into full-time coaching, but certainly is better than sitting at home surfing his cable channels.
The Gruden speculation holds very little value in my mind. I don't doubt that Jon Gruden would express interest in the 49ers job, just like I imagine he'll make sure ESPN finds out he is interested in all sorts of jobs. Until he takes a pro-active step to get an interview with a team, I look at Jon Gruden reports as just another instance of him looking to improve his situation at ESPN. I don't blame him for it, but I'm not going to take such reports all too seriously as far as him actually, really wanting to get back into coaching. Until we see a proactive step, I would not get your hopes up about Jon Gruden, if you were so inclined to do so.
What this does all mean is the silly season is well and truly upon us. The 49ers have a decision to make with regard to Jim Harbaugh. If he is not going to get a contract extension, the team likely will either trade or fire him. I just don't see him coaching out his final season without an extension. Not after the firestorm of rumors this season.
Once they make their decision with Harbaugh, they then will go through their coaching search. A lot of names will come out of the woodwork beyond those they already want to potentially interview. Jim Tomsula and Vic Fangio will get their opportunities, as could Brad Seely. The team will also need to meet the Rooney rule requirements. The Rooney Rule has been great in getting interview opportunities and even some jobs for minority candidates. However, if the team is deadset on Tomsula or one of the big names, it could turn into a sham interview. It's good to get interview experience, but it's a bit ridiculous when teams run some kind of dog and pony show to meet important requirements.
Whatever the case, the next few weeks will be interesting, to say the least. It's a shame the last few years could come to an end like this, but at least we know it won't be boring.