The San Francisco 49ers rolled the Dallas Cowboys 28-17 on Sunday, and if you are inclined to believe reports, this came in spite of locker room issues. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that there are some who think Harbaugh is losing the locker room, and as he put it, there "serious doubts about whether Harbaugh is actually all in". Rapoport even pointed to complaints about the decision to stay in Baltimore for the three practices after the Ravens game.
I would not be at all surprised if there were some players who would have preferred flying back to Santa Clara immediately after the Ravens game and sticking with their normal routine. But based on all I've seen and heard, any annoyance with that was short-lived. The players moved on, and that's that.
One thing to factor in is that winning solves a lot of problems. Rapoport's report said something about how some veterans wonder if things will spiral out of control if they start losing. That is a pretty generic statement since they would not be the first team to fall apart if they went into some kind of extended losing streak. The report itself came across as almost a compilation of months of comments strung together to make it seem like things are at some sort of breaking point.
Naturally, Coach Harbaugh was asked about the issue after the game. He denied that there were any problems, and said he has an open-door policy. He said he welcomes any suggestions that will make the team better. He specifically said he does not trust the report, and that the players will go to hell and back for the coaches and the team.
Some players were asked about the situation, and the ones who spoke did not buy into the issues of locker room drama. Anquan Boldin said he came back specifically because he had a good relationship with Jim Harbaugh, and this was the first time he'd heard of reports of tension. Joe Staley said of Harbaugh, "He's one of our leaders. We look to him for guidance and he's done a great job with this football team." Justin Smith looked at the drama as just something that is more a media thing than anything else.
I can't imagine this will be the last report of tension. When a team is winning, people seem to look for chinks in the armor. And given that Harbaugh's press conferences probably feel at times like a trip to the dentist for some in the media, it is not surprising that national folks will look for this kind of thing. It gets the clicks
And they will continue to look for it, particularly as long as Coach Harbaugh does not have a new contract. Rapoport ended with a question of "Is this the last year for Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco?" Several other media types have suggested Harbaugh will be gone after this year. Over the weekend, our favorite Harbaugh fan, Mike Florio, even talked about the start of Harbaugh watch for a Michigan team that was awful against Notre Dame. It's just the nature of the beast.
When the 49ers were a bad team during the Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary years, there really was little talk of this kind of stuff. Both had their locker room issues, particularly between both coaches and quarterback Alex Smith. And yet, this team was awful and so nobody outside of the Bay Area really cared. Now that the 49ers are back in the spotlight, the media swarms.
At this point, it is just something to put up with as fans of a winning team. It's annoying, but in reality it's just more of the same nonsense. Will Jim Harbaugh be back after this season? If the 49ers win the Super Bowl, I think he works out a new deal. If the 49ers do not win a Super Bowl, who knows what happens. You could argue that all bets are off at that point. Either way, I'm not overly concerned with it right now. Jed York and Jim Harbaugh both acknowledged they have tabled contract talks for now. That means any reports about contract tension and the like are mostly going to be BS. Thankfully there is football to try and draw our attention away from the nonsense.