Oakland Raiders: Pros and Cons of Hiring Jim Harbaugh

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Oct 6, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) warms up next to head coach Jim Harbaugh before the start of the game against the Houston Texans at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

1) Quarterback Development

Derek Carr is struggling.  Everything looks great from the moment he takes the snap until the split-second when he releases the ball; it’s all downhill from there.  That’s not to say that he does not have room to grow, he does, but he’s still well below spitting range of his ceiling (how much of this is attributable to the threadbare talent around him is a discussion for another day).

That’s precisely the problem I see with Harbaugh.

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Harbaugh has yet to establish himself as a quarterback whisperer.  In his two supremely successful years in Palo Alto, he benefited from the once-in-a-generation talents of Andrew Luck.  His previous two years were less sparkling quarterback-wise.  In 2007, he coached the dull duo of T.C. Ostrander and Tavita Pritchard to a pedestrian 6.2 ANY/A and a truly horrific 4.2 ANY/A, respectively, with an equal touchdown-to-interception ratio.  The next season, he pulled Pritchard up to a 6.4 ANY/A figure, but the TD:INT dipped into negative figures.

Once he joined the professional ranks, Harbaugh quickly named Colin Kaepernick as his quarterback of the future, ditching the quiet, unadorned competence of Alex Smith in the process.  That future has turned into a Ridley Scott hellscape, as Kaepernick has seen his ANY/A dip every year since 2012.  Over the same time span, Kap has regressed from 3rd in DVOA, to 7th, to 28th.

Now, it’s unfair to graft Kaepernick’s failures onto the prospective future of Carr. Does the NFL strike you as  fair?

I thought not

2) Burnout

This is stretching, I realize.  To be honest, it’s hard to compile too many negatives against Harbaugh, particularly compared to the putridity of the Dennis Allen years and the convalescence of Sparano’s eight-week stretch.

And yet..

Harbaugh has faced constant scrutiny – from fans, from the media, and from his own front office – for quite some time now.  There are downsides to achieving too much success too quickly, namely sky-rocketing expectations and the questions that follow when a team gets stuck in the stratosphere.  It has to weigh on a person’s psyche, no matter how ferocious.

I can’t say how I would fare under the media barrage Harbaugh has faced.  I can say I would respond no better than this:

Harbaugh would bring baggage to an organization with a trigger finger for disappointment.

At least there would be something in those bags.  After nearly a decade of empty-suitcase hires, Harbaugh would be an unambiguous upgrade.  Go get him, Mr. Davis.