San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh Opens Up In SI Interview


Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh looks on against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of the 2013 NFC Championship football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh tried to set the record straight in an interview with Sports Illustrated, talking on subjects he usually declines to address.

"“I get paid extremely well,” Harbaugh said in response to reports he wants to be the NFL’s highest-paid coach. “Jed York has always been square dealing with me. I don’t think about that as an issue … I’ve seen it written like fact: ‘Harbaugh wants to be the highest paid coach in football,’ or ‘desperately covets a new contract.’ For the record: I make plenty of money. I mean, plenty of money.”"

Instead, Harbaugh seemed to be campaigning for a raise for a member of his staff, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

"“He has not had a raise since he’s been here,” Harbaugh said. “Focus on that.”"

The coach also tried to dispel notions of a power struggle with general manager Trent Baalke.

"“I have never said that [I want more power], nor do I want any more power than I have,” Harbaugh said. “I coach the team. I’ve told my owner I don’t want any more power. I want to coach the team. And I’ve never told anybody else otherwise.“We’re both demanding and we want to be accountable for ourselves, for each other,” Harbaugh said of Baalke. “If you haven’t had a brother, you probably don’t understand the relationship between the GM and the head coach. We’re partners on the same team. I have great respect for him. He works extremely hard at it and is very good at it. We are all part of a team. I believe in the structure we have. I don’t want to change anything that we do in that regard.”"

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who just agreed to a two-year contract extension, said that if there is a rift between the coach and the players in the locker room, he’s not aware of it.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Ann Killion reported recently that Harbaugh’s “act has worn thin” among several members of the team.

"“I don’t think there’s any rift between players and coaches, particularly Coach Harbaugh,” Boldin told the San Jose Mercury News. “He has good rapport with all the guys I know of. There’s no gripes in the locker room when it comes to Coach Harbaugh. He wants to win and everybody in the locker room wants to do the same. We’re usually on the same page and if not, we have it where we can talk to him and he can talk to us.”"

Boldin claims the stories are the product of a media contingent covering the team that has nothing to write about this time of year.

"“At this time of year, people grab at whatever,” Boldin said. “Football season is not here so they’ll do whatever they can to write and a lot of it is far-fetched, has nothing to do with football and the team.”"

Of course, if there was a rift between Harbaugh and the players, Boldin probably wouldn’t acknowledge it publicly.

It’s also entirely possible that if the team continues to win, all of this chatter in the offseason goes away. But a slow start in September could lead to smoldering embers igniting into a full-fledged firestorm of distractions.