Team owner Jed York said Thursday that he and coach Jim Harbaugh have agreed to table contract talks until the end of the 49ers’ season.
“We actually just had this conversation (Wednesday),” York said on Yahoo! SportsTalk Live, which was held at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara on Thursday. “Lots of people were talking to him about it. We just said, ‘You know what, let’s not do anything during the season. Let’s sit down a week or so after the season is over and let everybody know we’re not focused on anything that’s off the field right now.
“Jim and I will sit down a week or so after the season is over and we’ll figure out where we go.”
According to a source, the 49ers made Harbaugh a contract proposal earlier this offseason, but he never responded. He has two years remaining on a five-year deal that pays him $5 million a season. The two sides also discussed an extension last season but made no progress.
York said he had no problem with a scenario in which Harbaugh and the 49ers win the Super Bowl and Harbaugh’s value increases.
“Like I’ve said publicly, and very loudly in the past, I hope he has the utmost leverage when we sit down and talk about his contract at the end of the season,” York said. “It’s a good thing. It’s an unbelievable problem to have.”
Difficulties in working out a contract extension likely prompted the Cleveland Browns to inquire about trading for Harbaugh following the 2013 season, an overture that was quickly rejected, York has said in the past. Harbaugh has led the 49ers to at least the NFC Championship game in each of the three years he has coached the team. Before he arrived, the team hadn’t reached the postseason since Steve Mariucci was the coach in 2002.
“I think this training camp, as I look at it, I’m saying that he’s better than the old Michael Crabtree,” the 49ers’ offensive coordinator said. “Why? His physical conditioning, his understanding of the game. I think he played the games last year under less-than-ideal circumstances and had to adjust his game a little bit to account for that.”
Crabtree missed most of the 2013 season with a torn Achilles’ tendon he suffered the previous May. He returned in December and played eight games, finishing with 487 receiving yards. Despite those respectable stats, Roman said Crabtree never returned to full speed before the team’s season ended in Seattle.
“He came off the Achilles’ injury and just really gutted it out at the end of the year,” Roman said. “I don’t have this as a fact, but I don’t know if everybody would have played that early coming off that injury.”
Crabtree walked out of Wednesday’s practice after a trainer looked at his lower leg.
“He’s fine,” Roman said. “Just working with our training staff, taking part of all the meetings and everything else that everybody else is taking part of.”
Another veteran receiver, Brandon Lloyd, also missed Thursday’s session. Roman indicated that Lloyd also was dealing with a minor injury.
Following the meeting, Goodell is expected to decide on a punishment for Smith – likely a multi-game suspension. Smith has had several run-ins and near-misses since January 2012, including two DUI charges and weapons violations. He pleaded “no contest” to charges in May and was sentenced to 12 days in a work program. That sentence began Monday.
• With LaMichael James (elbow) out for a few weeks, Devon Wylie and Bruce Ellington handled punt-return duties Thursday.
• An NFL officiating crew was on hand this week to go over new league rules and points of emphasis with the 49ers. One area of emphasis – verbal abuse, including racist and homophobic slurs of the opponent – will be a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.