With the tea leaves pointing squarely toward the 49ers trading coach Jim Harbaugh with one year left on his contract, what can the 49ers get for him on the open market?
Fans will be hoping for a Jon Gruden-style haul, especially if Harbaugh is traded to the team that traded Gruden to the Bucs nearly 13 years ago. In early 2002, Tampa Bay gave up two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8 million for Gruden, who like Harbaugh was entering the final year of his contract.
Barring a full-blown bidding war, with multiple teams driving up the price, it’s unlikely to happen for the 49ers. Earlier this year, and as PFT previously has reported, the Browns would have gotten Harbaugh for two third-round picks, if Harbaugh ultimately had decided to take the job.
If Harbaugh had wanted the job, he would be coaching the Browns right now. Ultimately, he chose to stay with the 49ers. It’s highly unlikely he’ll make that choice again.
It’s also highly unlikely that Harbaugh would sign off on a trade that would see his new team give up so much to get him. While it would be a nice boost to the ego to have a franchise sacrifice two ones and two twos to get a coach, it also ties one hand behind the coach’s back to lose important assets for building a team. (Then again, maybe he has a recessive gene that keeps him from worrying about not having first- or second-round draft picks.)
Regardless, the Browns set the floor in February, as part of a deal that was far closer to happening that anyone will admit on the record. Unless the 49ers can get the Raiders and the Jets (and maybe another team) to start one-upping each other, the package should be far closer to two threes than the ransom that the Bucs paid for Gruden,