There is no question Jim Harbaugh deserves all the credit in the world for helping turn around the fortunes of the San Francisco 49ers. However, if he does decide to leave some time soon, the team has options in their favor.
Cleveland Browns and USC rumors show Trent Baalke is the man in charge
How ironic it would’ve been if the 49ers had indeed traded Jim Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns. Only twice in the past 15 years has a head coach actually been traded. The first was when Jon Gruden went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then Herm Edwards left New York for Kansas City. The team that dealt Gruden? The Oakland Raiders who stare across the say body of water at San Francisco every year. Obviously that event never came to pass but it certainly raised eyebrows and for good reason. One would think after three-straight NFC championship game appearances and coming within seconds of a Super Bowl title, Harbaugh would be the most untouchable coach in the business. Instead not only Cleveland but college powerhouse USC have ties to inquiring about the availability of Harbaugh. Since then the facts have begun to surface that the 49ers are by no means prepared to “beg” the head coach to stay if he has interest going elsewhere. It’s a clear sign of where the real power in the organization sits, and that is with GM Trent Baalke. Indeed he is the one who assembled such a deep and talented roster and if he was able to make the savvy hire of Harbaugh in the first place, why can’t he do it again?
Greg Roman and Vic Fangio both offer terrific fallback plans
It’s not like it would be hard either. One often overlooked strength of the San Francisco 49ers is their very able coaching staff headlined by coordinators Greg Roman and Vic Fangio. Both were under heavy consideration for head coaching jobs the past two seasons but due to the success of the team in the playoffs haven’t been able to get into the interview process. Roman is a hot, young name in offensive circles lauded by his players for his “mad scientist” playcalling that often involved unorthodox formations that confuse defenses pre-snap. Fangio meanwhile has created one of the most consistently good defensive units in pro football, a unit that has shown remarkable resiliency despite suffering its share of injury and off-the-field setbacks the past couple seasons. Each coach has experience and knows the roster inside and out by now. They alone would rate highly on the short list of possible Jim Harbaugh replacements. That’s not counting other qualified names for Baalke to explore.
There is no question the San Francisco 49ers are in good hands with Jim Harbaugh. Still, if a power struggle ensues and he exits stage right, the team has enough leverage in their corner to survive the loss and still compete.