How close was Jim Harbaugh to getting traded by the 49ers?

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Jim Harbaugh

This could come as surprise news, but it seems that it was close to happening. Last week there were many reports suggesting that the San Francisco 49ers could have get rid of Jim Harbaugh by trading him for high draft picks to the Cleveland Browns. Luckily for the 49ers fans and for the entire organization, nothing happened and they still have their coach, one of the best in the entire league.

Before analyzing why the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers maintained conversations about a possible deal involving Jim Harbaugh, let’s see what the coach means to the red and gold.

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the most successful teams in the history of the NFL. They have won five Super Bowls and multiple division titles. They dominated the NFL back in the 80’s, when the tandem integrated by Joe Montana and when Jerry Rice amazed the entire league so much that made him be considered the best at his position. The San Francisco 49ers and their fans were used to being successful and they were accustomed to playing at the top level, chasing Super Bowl titles. Super Bowl was a goal every season. But in the 2000’s everything turned wrong. They accumulated losing season after season. They did not find an elite starting quarterback and they actually drafted one with the first pick of the 2005 draft, who didn’t prove out to be reliable. Many people passed by the position of head coach but no one hit the key to straighten out the road again. They lost the stability they got back in their entire history.

When the 2011 season arrived, the San Francisco 49ers were one of the worst teams of the whole league. They had not made the playoffs for the eight straight seasons. However,during the 2011 offseason everything would change once again. The man who took the head coach job of this historical organization, Jim Harbaugh, had one thing in his mind: to take the team back to where it belongs.

Jim Harbaugh, a former professional quarterback who played for the Chicago Bears, the Indianapolis Colts, the Baltimore Ravens, the San Diego Chargers and the Carolina Panthers, was coaching College football when the San Francisco 49ers knocked his door. After what he accomplished during his tenure with Stanford he earned that opportunity. He led the Stanford football to the conquest of the Orange Bowl 40-12 against Virginia Tech.

During his years with the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Harbaugh has accomplished amazing things. Maybe the hardest thing to do, and the first he took care of, was regaining the credit lost by the franchise. In his first season ahead the team he won the NFC West title, with an outstanding 13-3 record, and he led them to the NFC Championship Game. Unfortunately, they lost to the New York Giants 17-20 in overtime.

The following year the team excelled what it did the previous season. The 2012 season was very to close to be one of the greatest in franchise history. Jim Harbaugh built a scary defense with awesome and very talented players. That combined with an also great offense, with the emergence of the current starting quarterback and leader, Colin Kaepernick. The team won once again the NFC West title with a good 11-4-1 record. Although the regular season was not as great as the previous one, the 49ers performed better in the playoffs. They also got to the NFC Championship Game, only this time the scales tipped in their favor. In another exciting game, they beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 to reach the sixth Super Bowl in franchise history. In one of the weirdest Super Bowls that anyone can remember, due to a power outage, they did not performed as they expected. Eventually they only lost 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens but they almost completed what would’ve been one of greatest comebacks in NFL history. They were trailing by 22 points in the third quarter before that incident with the lights occured. That was the first loss in a Super Bowl for the 49ers.

In his third year as San Francisco’s head coach, one thing was acceptable for Jim Harbaugh. The core of the teams made impressive achievements the previous two seasons and they were more experienced. The Super Bowl ring was the goal but they fell short once again. That season they were beaten by one team: the Seattle Seahawks. Their division rivals won the NFC West title, overtook San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game and won the Super Bowl title. Not only the 49ers didn’t achieve their only goal but also it seemed that they took a step backwards.

And there was the key to all this buzz because, why would the San Francisco 49ers want to deal a great head coach like Jim Harbaugh? It is not about the work he has done, that is for sure. He has built one of the greatest teams of the league since his first moment with the franchise. What’s creating tension between him and the front office is the lack of a ring.

The fact that he hasn’t won a championship is not only a load in the sports side. Harbaugh is under contract through the 2015 season and he and the team wants to extend that deal. But the head coach wants one of the best salaries of the league and the 49ers think that, if he wants to be paid as a top head coach, he first needs to be one. In sports, the only thing that matters is championships and, Harbaugh has none of those.

At the end, the San Francisco 49ers and the Browns did not seal a deal that would have been great for the Cleveland team. The red and gold fans are thankful of that because they know that Harbaugh is a cornerstone in this project and in future successful seasons. Hopefully the contract extension will finally get done and, who knows, maybe this is the season in which the younger Harbaugh brother finally wins a ring.

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