Tension between 49ers, Harbaugh getting tricky
San Francisco owner Jed York acknowledged Wednesday that coach Jim Harbaugh and General Manager Trent Baalke have a normal level of tension over personnel issues, but said the problem was not a sticking point in contract negotiations over an extension for Harbaugh.
However, there are indications that the 49ers have their limits with Harbaugh, who has two years remaining on a five-year, $25 million contract the team gave him in 2011.
"Now do we butt heads on players from time to time? Of course," York said during his weekly radio appearance on KNBR in San Francisco on Wednesday. "That's what GMs and coaches do. But Jim knows that being a coach is a full-time job, and he has a lot of respect for the job that Trent has done. I mean, you look at the folks we've added through the draft, free agency and trade -- we're in a pretty good spot from a talent standpoint.
"And I've always said, you can have control in your contract, but if you can't sit down and actually talk something through, it really doesn't matter what your contract says. And I think that's where Jim and Trent are. They sit down and argue things out. And then they figure out, what's the best thing for the 49ers and let's move forward. And that's how I really see this team operating in the future and in perpetuity."
While that sounds like a healthy amount of creative tension, others around the team have indicated that Harbaugh could one day wear out his welcome because of his hyper-demanding approach.
Earlier this month, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that San Francisco would be willing to let Harbaugh go to the University of Texas if the Longhorns made an aggressive push for Harbaugh.
“Would the 49ers hold back Jim Harbaugh if Texas starts throwing around some of the mon-ey it could? No, if Jim Harbaugh wants to leave for the University of Texas, San Francisco would let him,” Schefter said on Dec. 15. “But the 49ers are banking on the fact that they offered him an extension last summer, they’ll continue talking a new deal with him, he likes it in the Bay Area.”
While that’s a polite take on the situation, others in and around the organization have said over the past two years that Harbaugh’s aggressive approach has often rubbed some people the wrong way. Likewise, Harbaugh rubbed administrators at Stanford University the wrong way at times during his tenure there. Ultimately, Harbaugh’s success has prevented the issues from becom-ing more significant.
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