Front-office friction in SF; harmony in Seattle

There are plenty of similarities between NFC West rivals Seattle and San Francisco, from their recent success to their tough defenses to their run-first offenses to their hyper-competitive coaches with Pac-10 roots.

Those similarities end, however, when it comes to front-office harmony.

In one of the strangest stories of this NFL offseason—well, aside from this one—ProFootballTalk.com reported Friday that the Browns and 49ers nearly pulled off a trade that would send Jim Harbaugh to Cleveland.

Since then there have been denials, non-denials and a whole bunch of different versions of the story, all of which points to the fact that some sort of conversations indeed happened, though just how serious talks got depends on who you believe.

Regardless of how close Harbaugh was to leaving San Francisco, it brings up the question of how this could have even been a possibility? After all, Harbaugh, for all his quirks, is clearly one of the best coaches in football, so why would the 49ers consider trading him, or for that matter, why would Harbaugh be willing to leave a place where he has had a ton of success to go coach a franchise that has become one of the least stable in the NFL?

Well as it turns out, things may not be so friendly at the top of the 49ers organization when it comes to the relationship between Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke. That’s not actually new news, there have long been rumblings of tension between the two when it comes to the amount of control Harbaugh has—or more accurately, doesn’t have—when it comes to roster decisions, but the report of a near trade and what has come sense shows just how frosty the relationship may be. In the end Harbaugh may get the new contract and more control that he wants and this could end up just being a strange offseason story we forget about, but it could also, as CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora suggests, end with owner Jed York having to choose between the two.

Which brings us back to the Seahawks. While the 49ers have shown they can win with Harbaugh and Baalke running things, even if there is conflict there, it hardly seems like an ideal long-term solution. The Seahawks, meanwhile, built a Super Bowl champion in large part because of the structure at the top of their organization.

After seeing the Seahawks deal with some dysfunction and friction within the front office, then-Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke made it a priority to have a coach and GM on the same page when the Seahawks were in the market for both following the 2009 season. Unlike a more traditional structure where the GM would be in place first, then help hire a coach, Leiweke and Seahawks owner Paul Allen hired Carroll first, then let him help in the hiring process that eventually brought John Schneider to Seattle. The relationship those two have formed has been an essential part of Seattle’s success according to both. You can read more about it in this story from January, but here’s a bit of what Carroll said about his relationship with Schneider:

“I think it’s absolutely the most crucial relationship and aspect of our program. All of the decisions that we make, we make together, and the fact that we communicate so well and we trust one another so much, it’s helped us throughout.”

Contrast that with what is going on in San Francisco, and Seahawks fans should feel pretty good about the direction of the franchise going forward.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Snohomish junior Tyler Gildersleeve-Stiles hits the floor trying to get the ball during a WIAA 3A Girls Basketball quarterfinal against Arlington on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish girls lock down Arlington, advance to 3A state semifinals

The Panthers run away a 45-25 victory in a rubber match between the Wesco rivals.

Glacier Peak junior Josiah Lee splits the defense on his way to the basket during a WIAA 4A Boys Basketball quarterfinal against Gonzaga Prep on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lee flips switch, Glacier Peak boys rally again to reach 4A state semis

Jo Lee pours in a barrage of 3-pointers down the stretch as the Grizzlies outlast Gonzaga Prep 65-58 in overtime.

Mountlake Terrace’s Rayshaun Connor shoots a three during a WIAA 3A Boys Basketball quarterfinal against Mount Spokane on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Terrace boys overpowered by Mt. Spokane in 3A state quarterfinals

The Hawks struggle with the well-oiled Wildcats in an 82-58 loss.

Everett’s Alana Washington is called for an offensive foul during a WIAA 3A Girls Basketball quarterfinal against Garfield on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett girls fall to Garfield in 3A state quarterfinals

Katie Fiso and the Bulldogs prove too much for the Seagulls in a 54-43 loss.

X
State basketball roundup for Thursday, Feb. 29

State basketball prep roundup for Thursday, Feb. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To… Continue reading

X
State basketball roundup for Wednesday, Feb. 28

State basketball prep roundup for Wednesday, Feb. 28: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To… Continue reading

Glacier Peak’s Jayce Nelson looks for an open shot during the 4A boys state basketball game against Camas on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Glacier Peak boys mount huge comeback, reach 4A state quarterfinals

Senior Isaiah Cuellar leads the way with 24 points as the Grizzlies down Camas 65-61.

Everett’s Alana Washington takes the ball down the court during the 3A girls state basketball game against Auburn on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett girls upset Auburn, advance to 3A state quarterfinals

Alana Washington’s layup in the final seconds lifts the Seagulls to a 43-42 win and their first quarterfinal berth since 1983.

Mountlake Terrace’s Jaxon Dubiel looks for a teammate to pass too while being guarded during the 3A boys state basketball game against Todd Beamer on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Terrace boys hold off Todd Beamer, advance to 3A state quarterfinals

The Hawks let a big lead slip away in the second half, but pull out a 69-59 victory.

Snohomish’s Sienna Capelli looks for an open shot during the 3A girls state basketball game against Kennewick on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish girls dominate Kennewick early, reach 3A state quarterfinals

The Panthers hold off a second-half push and win 48-40, setting up a highly anticipated rubber match with league rival Arlington.

Arlington’s Leyton Martin takes the ball down the court during the 3A boys state basketball game against Garfield on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington boys’ upset bid falls short in OT against Garfield

The Eagles give the defending Class 3A state champions a scare in a 60-58 loss.

Jackson’s Seamus Williams tries to maneuver through outstretched arms during the 4A boys state basketball game against Tahoma on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Jackson boys’ rally runs out of steam late against Tahoma

The Timberwolves battle back from an early hole, but fall 60-49 in the Class 4A round of 12.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.