The Harbaugh Tour Starts Sunday


Best way to woo an NFL franchise into making you their next head coach? Beat the snot out of them when given the chance.

Faced with the lowly Raiders in this week’s important-but-probably-doesn’t-matter Week 14 matchup , Jim Harbaugh will get exactly that.

We all know the story: Harbaugh’s tenure with the Red and Gold is up following this season. He’s at odds with General Manager Trent Baalke, and the internal power struggle will send him packing.

Or so says the media.

I too am a member of the media, but I certainly don’t agree with this wild projection, only because there are a handful of possible results and it’s too early to narrow the reticule on just one.

Does it make sense for Harbaugh to rescue another sinking ship (Raiders) after establishing himself as one of the best coaches in the NFL? It does, because it would make him an angel with wings for a franchise that belongs in the Canadian Football League, and it would prove that Baalke was wrong to doubt his coaching prowess.

Flip the coin, and the next scenario is just as plausible.

Does it make sense for Harbaugh to resuscitate another wounded franchise after picking up the 49ers by the bootstraps and shaking them free from apathy? Absolutely not, and teams such as the Browns, Dolphins, Jets, Falcons and Bears are softer landing spots than the cross-bay project that is the Oakland Raiders.

And unlike most, I do not believe a jump back into the college game affects his NFL clout. Say what you will – Harbaugh has proven he can succeed in the NFL.

Seeing both sides of this story is why I believe anything is possible. Ever seen Talladega Nights? “I don’t know what to do with my hands” – that’s exactly how I feel about the Harbaugh situation: We’re all just acting, and we’re doing a bad job.

But expect nothing but fluff and smiles this weekend, as the game takes a backseat to what I’ve dubbed “The Harbaugh Tour.”

Football-wise, the Raiders and 49ers hate each other; why is beyond me. They don’t share a conference and will soon reside in different states (or on opposite ends of one), yet they bludgeon each other at every opportunity. It’s classic sports fervor gone wrong.

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But with the Harbaugh Tour officially underway, expect pleasantry as two teams that have failed to meet expectations jostle for the rights to Don Khaki.

There are four games remaining on the 49ers’ schedule: @ Oakland;  @Seattle; San Diego; and Arizona. They must win every game to have a legitimate chance at a wild card berth. Personally, I think they win two, making the most important story for the end of the year The Harbaugh Tour.

Baalke and the 49er bigwigs are doing their best to oust Harbaugh, but are they even concerned with the fans? Losing him will create uncertainty. Who knows how this franchise performs post-Harbaugh?

Jed York tweeted that the 49ers’ recent blunder against the Seahawks was unacceptable, apologizing to his fan base in lieu of the butt-kicking.

But I think the real apology has yet to come, and it should look something like this:

"“I apologize for plunging the 49ers into another early-2000’s scenario because us front-office types are sensitive to power loss.’— Jed York, Twitter, 2015"

I’m no comedian, but I do love the Red and Gold. I can handle losing, but when egos collide and the fans suffer, then I have a problem. The Harbaugh Tour (which I’m opposed to) has turned the last quarter of the season into a joke, and it detracts from football related stories.

Expect Harbaugh to coach his butt off for the remainder of the season. Along the way, teams will fall in love with his pizzazz and ability to filter out the surrounding cacophony while remaining focused.

The Harbaugh Tour will produce one winner: Jim Harbaugh.

The fans, however, should strap in and prepare for a bumpy roller coaster ride and a future of uncertainty.