The absurdity of the Jim Harbaugh trade talk
Yesterday, it was reported during the ESPN pregame shows that San Francisco could possibly extend or even trade Jim Harbaugh in the near future. When I first heard the report, my initial reaction was laughter.
Let’s take this report from the top and examine it. ESPN’s Adam Schefter came out with the report and we all know that Schefter is one of the more credible people in the business when it comes to getting inside information. Schefter has also been known to “float” information for front office types just so the people he is floating the info for can get a possible read on the idea. In this case, I feel this is exactly what happened.
Unless you have been in a deep sleep for the last year, you know there is a huge disconnect in San Francisco between Harbaugh and the front office. This “marriage” isn’t going to work, and there is a divorce coming. The question isn’t if, it’s when. The people in San Francisco are having Schefter float the idea to see if there are any takers, perhaps with the hope of setting up some sort of bidding war. The problem with that idea, is the San Francisco people have to be pretty arrogant to think that some other club would be so stupid to “trade” for a coach who will soon become a ‘free agent”.
Yesterday on twitter, I posed that thought, and I got responses like, “Well then the team knows they can get Harbaugh to be their coach”. Well part of that answer is true, when you look at it closely, the idea is absolutely absurd.
If reports are correct, Harbaugh has one year left on his current contract. Sure, the 49ers could trade that contract to another team, but the only thing the other team has is Harbaugh for one year. If Harbaugh didn’t like the team he was traded to, he could coach them for a year and then bolt to a place that he feels is a better situation.
Trading for a coach is not like trading for a player. Why do you think that clubs go through an interview process to find the right guy? Don’t be mistaken, just as the club is interviewing the coaching candidate, so is the candidate interviewing the club. There has to be a proper fit. The team has to buy into the coach’s philosophy and the coach has to buy into the team's. The prospective coach, team owner, and general manager have to be on the same page. In the coach's contract, there are clauses written into it that state what control he has. Does he have final say over the 53 man roster, final say in the draft, final say in trade and waiver acquisitions? That’s just a few of the items. There are many more including pay. In a trade, none of those questions even gets talked about. While a team may want a certain coach, there is no guarantee that the coach wants that team.
I don’t know what Harbaugh has written into his current contract, but I’ve been told he doesn’t have control over the 53-man roster or the draft. I also have been told that, in a future contract, he wants that control. If he were traded he still wouldn’t have that power. You can say that he can get a new contract with that power in it. That is true, but what if the clubs current GM already has that power and doesn’t want to give it up?
You could also say that the 49ers could extend Harbaugh’s contract only to trade him. My answer is, why would Harbaugh agree to an extension of a contract that he already doesn’t like? It makes no sense. By rule, the 49ers can’t put certain things in the contract that their current GM already has. Two people can’t have the same power, so an extension can’t be done before a trade.
The bottom line is the media can write all they want about a trade, but it’s not going to happen. The fact that Schefter floated the idea tells me that there is no way Harbaugh will be back In San Francisco. Harbaugh can just sit back and wait to be fired, then he can pick where he wants to work, be it the NFL or College. He, then, can also negotiate what clauses are in his contract. That wouldn’t happen in a trade.
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