Breaking down Jim Harbaugh-49ers saga
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Bay Area Buzz 3/9: Jim Harbaugh, Tim Lincecum, Baseball Video Review


Breaking down Jim Harbaugh-49ers saga

"Coach Jim Harbaugh’s situation in San Francisco has been one of the most talked-about stories in the league in recent weeks.If a resolution on his contract isn’t reached, it will likely hover over the franchise all season and would be a major story next January, when Harbaugh could leave the team, although Harbaugh told Sports Illustrated this week he is happy with all aspects of his job and doesn’t see any way he will leave the team before the end of his contract. Still, getting the contract done would ease a lot of issues.We all know the backdrop: Harbaugh has led the 49ers to the NFC title game in all three of his seasons as coach. He got them to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season. He is entering the fourth year of a five-year contract that pays him $5 million per year. Harbaugh and the 49ers have been in discussion about a new deal for about a year, but are not close to an extension. Team owner Jed York recently told the Sacramento Bee he thinks contract talks will resume after the NFL draft in early May.Things got interesting when the Cleveland Browns pursued a trade for Harbaugh. The 49ers were not interested, but that could change next year.There have been rampant reports that Harbaugh has had trouble with some in the 49ers’ front office, including general manager Trent Baalke. York, Harbaugh and Baalke have long downplayed the friction, indicating that they can coexist.However, there is enough smoke here to think this situation go could south if a contract isn’t agreed upon this year. Let’s look at some issues that may be part of this story as it further develops:The history: While it would be stunning to see the 49ers-Harbaugh marriage disintegrate after such a stellar start, similar breakups have happened before.After winning two straight Super Bowls, Jimmy Johnson famously left the Cowboys in 1994 after fighting with owner Jerry Jones. Following the 1998 season, Mike Holmgren shocked the NFL when he left quarterback Brett Favre and a Green Bay Packers team in its prime after a seven-year run that included a Super Bowl win. Holmgren left for more power and much more money in Seattle. In 2002, the Raiders traded coach Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay for a massive amount of draft picks. The Raiders were burned as Gruden led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win against Oakland in his first season. In 2007, the Chargers sided with general manager A.J. Smith in his feud with coach Marty Schottenheimer even though the Chargers went 14-2 the season before.If Harbaugh leaves the 49ers, it wouldn’t be the first time a coach and team split despite success.The highest-paid coaches: Harbaugh told Sports Illustrated he is not unhappy with his pay, but the man is underpaid considering his massive NFL success. Nine of the 32 NFL coaches in 2013 made at least $7 million. Only five of them had won a Super Bowl.I’d think it has to bother Harbaugh that Chip Kelly earned $6.5 million in his first NFL season and NFC West rival Jeff Fisher made $7 million in St. Louis. Coaches’ salaries are at a premium and, by NFL standards, Harbaugh is underpaid.The best coaches without power: He is hypercompetitive and likes to be in control. So, Harbaugh probably isn’t always thrilled to defer personnel decisions to Baalke. But I don’t sense Harbaugh wanting to be the general manager and making every decision as he said. He is a coach.I don’t see this as a deal-breaker.There are plenty of great NFL coaches who don’t have total power, including Harbaugh’s brother, John, in Baltimore. There’s also Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh and Pete Carroll in Seattle. So, a lack of total power in the NFL really isn’t a big deal anymore for coaches."

–Bill Williamson,

Giants take a leap of faith on Lincecum

"The Giants took a massive leap of faith in signing Tim Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million contract. In essence, they looked longer and more lovingly — and yes, quite hopefully — at his good, great and brilliant 2013 starts than the starts that extended the life of the “Is this guy really done?” line of questioning that started forming in 2012.The Giants’ thinking, it can be assumed, went something like this:The talent is still in there. The howling fastball might not be, but the rest of the devastating arsenal, the insane split changeup and the knee-buckling bender, remains at the Freak’s fingertips. And now that he’s been sufficiently humbled to the point of openness regarding making the stylistic adjustments — on the field and off — eventually required of virtually every pitcher who’s lived, there’s a very good chance that a very good Act II is in the offing.And yes, there might have been a little of this kind of thinking going on, too:Even if he bombs as a starter, he’s already shown he can dominate in short relief, and while we’re not going to go public with this thought, there’s more than a little consternation in the house in regards to Mr. Romo. That incessantly slider-torqued elbow ain’t gonna hold out forever, and if he goes down, we’re not so sure we can count on the Santiago Casilla-Jeremy Affeldt-Heath Hembree combo to carry us through. Not the worst thing in the world to have a former Cy Young winner in your hip pocket should a couple of worst-case scenarios play out.The majority of the rest of baseball’s thinking, we quickly learned, went something like this:Putting more stock in those flashes of brilliance than the overall picture presented by the past two seasons is taking the concept of hopeful to an extreme. It’d be one thing if Lincecum was lights-out from, say, August on. He wasn’t. And even elite closers don’t make that kind of money, no matter how may wigs they help sell. Terrible signing, period."

–Mychael Urban, San Francisco Examiner

Baseball review rule: What could possibly go wrong?

"In this corner, we are way in favor of instant replay for baseball, as long as it doesn’t mean we have to watch replays of a bored outfielder hawking a loogie into his mitt and grinding it in with his fist.However, there is concern. This is still the regime ofBud Selig, who, when asked if he tweeted, said, “Sure, how else do you get a cab?”Baseball could be opening up a can of cobras here (not to be confused with a can of King Cobra). Some thoughts:— After the sixth inning, the umps can initiate a review if an aggrieved manager has burned his challenge. So we will still have entertaining yet time-wasting manager-umpire arguments, over whether or not the umps should green-light a review. Earl Weaver’s spirit lives on!— Joe Torre says reviews should take 60 to 90 seconds. The first one went 2:34. Put the evaluators on a one-minute clock. This isn’t “Where’s Waldo?”— Baseball’s newest stat, on umpire decisions: overturns.— The stat freaks will also grade managers, a batting average for challenges.— The home team must show on the ballpark video screen the same shots being fed to the evaluating umps. This will be good for a laugh in Oakland, where the video screen was built by Philo T. Farnsworth.— Every clubhouse will have a mini command center, where a person hired by the team will make quick evaluations on potential reviews and relay advice to the manager. Finally, job openings for couch potatoes!— A team’s in-clubhouse reviewer will have to be cool under pressure, quick and wise. Did you see “Gravity”? George Clooney would be my first draft pick.— Once per game, the manager losing a challenge will be permitted to board a plane, fly to New York City’s replay central and argue his case in person. I made this one up."

–Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle