Tuesday morning, Matt Maiocco put together an FAQ about the Jim Harbaugh situation, discussing the issues the San Francisco 49ers have been dealing with this season. In a section titled "What is the problem?", Maiocco dropped in what could prove to be a fairly important nugget of information. A source told him that Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke have clashed on occasion, but both felt they could continue working together. That may have changed recently according to Maiocco's source:
But that changed a couple weeks ago when an undisclosed incident or series of interactions occurred that irreparably tore at the trust that must exist between a coach and general manager. (The source would not disclose the specifics of the disagreement.)
The Harbaugh-Baalke relationship has been discussed quite frequently over the last year. Tim Kawakami has been the primary writer on this, but it has evolved into a broader discussion lately. Given the recent Raiders and Jets trade rumors, it is entirely possible someone on either side floated the rumors following this rumored issue between Harbaugh and Baalke. The 49ers could have floated it to see what kind of interest there was in a trade, and Harbaugh's agent David Dunn could have floated it to get people calling the 49ers. Reports would indicate it is the 49ers side of things, but we're all left to speculate at this point.
The whole situation is a mess thanks to Jim Harbaugh having a year left on his contract, and the right to decline a trade. As some have said, he could decide he does not want to go to a team that has had to give up a draft pick or two for him. Instead, he can coach out his contract and leave as a free agent in 2015, or put the 49ers in a position where they would want to fire him this offseason.
However it plays out, this whole situation has become a mess. We have not seen on the record comments about any of this, which means we're left with a lot of flailing around through the media. If Harbaugh does depart after this season (be it trade or firing), I have to think we'll hear plenty of stuff in the media from both sides about the reality of the situation. I doubt we get anything significant on the record, but I have a hunch the anonymous sourcing will make the last few months look like nothing.