For the second time this year, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh sat down for a one-on-one interview to clarify his contract status. Newly hired Bleacher Report reporter Jason Cole (formerly of Yahoo!) got the interview, and it had some interesting content aside from just the contract discussion. We'll get to the fun stuff in a moment, but first, his comments about his contract:
I signed my 10th contract in the National Football League in 2011, so I understand contracts. I understand how contracts work, and what they are there for. I also know that I work at the pleasure of the San Francisco 49ers organization and at the pleasure of the York Family. And I am paid extremely well-which I am most grateful for, and I am very proud to be part of this organization. For the record, I have never asked to be the highest-paid coach in football. I have never asked to be paid like a Super Bowl-winning coach. I have never asked for more power. Nor has anybody asked for those things on my behalf, which anybody in this organization can attest to, and all the focus will be on the 2014 season and achieving our goals of the team.
In case you think these comments look familiar, he made some similar comments in an early March interview with SI's Michael Rosenberg. At the time, Pro Football Talk had been running with the rumor that Harbaugh was interested in the Cleveland Browns job. That coincided with reports that there was friction between Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke. In the Rosenberg interview, Harbaugh had this to say:
"I see all these reports about how I want to be the highest-paid coach in football," Harbaugh said. "They presume I covet some kind of extension. I have never said to anybody that I want to be the highest-paid coach in football. I have never said that to anybody -- my wife, my brother, my dad. I make plenty of money.
"The other one is that I want more power. I have never said that, nor do I want any more power than I have. I coach the team. I've told my owner I don't want any more power. I want to coach the team. And I've never told anybody else otherwise."
In the SI interview, he mentioned not telling anybody he wanted to be the highest-paid coach, and not saying he wanted any more power than he currently has. In the interview with Cole, he mentions never asking for it, and more importantly "Nor has anybody asked for those things on my behalf".
This is the most interesting point because the common belief is that his agent David Dunn is the one behind the many Harbaugh job-related rumors over the years. Over the years, Harbaugh has been connected to the University of Texas, USC, and most recently the Cleveland Browns. With the Browns rumors, my belief is that PFT was basically being played by some combination of David Dunn and Mike Lombardi. Back in February, socalisteph put together an article explaining why Harbaugh could very easily deny the Browns rumors, and any other rumors. Through various sources I've heard she was generally on the right track with her analysis. While agents work at the pleasure of the client, they have a certain measure of independence to make things happen. This includes trying to stir up outside demand to create leverage in negotiations. Dunn has done a fairly good job with this. Some of us can see the game he's playing, but it still does create some measure of leverage.
All that being said, Harbaugh more or less reiterated his previous stance. In reality, the value of this particular interview comes from Jim Harbaugh's discussion of various other topics. After the question about contracts, Cole asked Harbaugh about the notion that Harbaugh is prepared to bet on himself to win the Super Bowl and justify a huge deal. Harbaugh's response was pretty classic:
I've heard that reported by you and others, I just want to state for the record, and hopefully say just as I said it, that's how I feel. But I don't bet. If I bet on anything, it's for a chocolate milkshake. That's the extent of the stakes I bet on.
At his next press conference, somebody needs to throw down a wager for a chocolate milkshake!
The entire interview is worth a read. Harbaugh talked about the first time he put on pads, Colin Kaepernick's ceiling, his favorite Al Davis story, his missionary work, and this notion that he is an agitator. In response to the last question, Coach Harbaugh said he loves people and feels he is a people person. He had a great comment:
I think that's a strength of mine. I love being around people, especially in a team setting. I know that all human beings have a great agency for being part of a team. I think I'm especially wired that way and I love being part of something that is working toward a greater goal, and there's no more satisfaction in life than achieving those goals as a team and being a part of that team.
Head over and give the interview a read.