The Jim Harbaugh saga has been an exhausting and grueling march to what some view as his inevitable departure. The rumors have been building steam, really for more than a year now. The Cleveland Browns trade rumors are viewed by many as the start of all this nonsense, but really it started with the Texas and USC rumors a year ago. Neither really gained much traction, but we probably should have taken it as a sign that it would eventually be a bumpy ride.
Part of my job running this site is being prepared for whatever news may come our way. There are plenty of unexpected developments, but where possible, it's nice to be prepared for impending news. The idea is to pre-write whatever I can so that we can be on top of things the moment they happen. Frequently the sports world ends up caught with its pants down when something big breaks, but with Jim Harbaugh, it feels like we can be at least moderately prepared.
I have been putting together some pre-writes related to the eventual resolution, but given all the speculation the last few months, that is not a simple task. There are so many ways the Harbaugh-49ers relationship could resolve itself, that I find myself preparing for at least six possible scenarios. Here is a screenshot from the NN editorial dashboard:
The Michigan rumors have moved to the forefront following last night's news that Michigan is ready to offer Harbaugh a 6-year, $48 million contract. That's big money, but the fact that it has leaked indicates this is probably the work of Harbaugh's agent, David Dunn. He has officially established the floor for what Jim Harbaugh will accept in a new contract.
Jim Harbaugh could elect to resign from the 49ers, and sign that deal with Michigan. There would be no need for a buyout, and there would be no restrictions for him to just leave for Michigan. It worked out for Bobby Petrino, although I would hope Jim Harbaugh would do more than post a note in the locker room that he was leaving.
However, given the money that could end up at his doorstep if he waits two more weeks, Michigan remains one of the longer shots, in my opinion. SI's MIchael Rosenberg put together a solid breakdown of why Harbaugh could very well refuse the Michigan offer.
Every time one option pops up, it seems like there are several reasons to shoot it down. The Raiders are interested and Jim Harbaugh's wife prefers to stay int he Bay Area? Well, they stink and they are probably moving to LA sooner rather than later. The Dolphins want him? Stephen Ross had his chance in 2011 and couldn't lure him, so why would that change?
In my drafts, I have two scenarios in which Jim Harbaugh stays with the 49ers. One involves him playing out his contract in 2015, and the other involves him signing an extension. I think those are two of the least likely scenarios, but would anything really surprise anybody at this point? Am I missing any possible scenarios for how this plays? Has there ever been a coaching situation quite this ridiculous? It is wildly disappointing that the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh are potentially going to let this fall apart, and I do wish they could work this out. However, sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.