Jim Harbaugh Becomes Head Coach for the San Francisco 49ers: The Stanford Strategem, Part I

Coach Jim Harbaugh of Stanford University has selected to coach the San Francisco 49ers with a five-year, $25 million contract.  He was wooed by the Miami Dolphins, the Michigan Wolverines and talked with the Oakland Raiders.  But neither of these NCAA or NFL teams could appeal to him.  He made the decision to stay in California after Stanford’s win over Virginia Tech 40-12 with the assistance of premier NCAA quarterback Andrew Luck.  Harbaugh deemed the 49ers a “perfect competitive opportunity,” but he has his work cut out for him after Mike Singletary was released.  The 49ers underperformed this season with a 6-10 record, with the quarterback controversy and the underuse of their stars tight end Vernon Davis and running back Frank Gore.

However, in my opinion, Jim Harbaugh is calculating that a labor agreement won’t be made in March 2011. And with Andrew Luck staying for another year, it bides him time to still cater to Stanford and more importantly, to Andrew Luck.  And with Luck out of the draft this coming season, he may be gambling that Luck will be available next season as  a rookie for the 49ers.  With the talk with Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders, it may have been a move for potential trades in the upcoming season.  That would be a wise move, as Alex Smith will be in free agency next season.  All these options will require time to develop, and if the labor agreement fails, it will give him the time he needs to gameplan for the long-term.

Hopefully, 49ers owner Jed York won’t hold the high standards, similarly expected from Eric Mangini when he was the New York Jets.  Or when he was with the Cleveland Browns.  Jim Harbaugh made it clear that “losing is not an option.”  With the way the coaches were fired this season, it better not be.


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