Refreshing. That was the word in Jim Harbaugh's holster when he was asked this morning about his and owner Jed York's decision to table contract discussions until after the 49ers' season.
“Isn’t it refreshing?” Harbaugh said. “It has to be refreshing for you, refreshing for everybody in the building, refreshing for our fan base that the concentration will be on the 2014 season, and our goals as a football team in achieving those goals. That’s the 49er way that I subscribe to.”
“As I stated on the record these past months, this past week, that all focus is on the 2014 season and achieving our goals,” he continued. “I feel now the organization and I are in lockstep and all energy, all focus is on achieving our goals.”
Harbaugh has two seasons remaining on a deal that pays him $5 million a season. He said he didn't want to set a precedent in negotiating a new deal with multiple years remaining on the contract.
It's noteworthy that two players who held out in the spring, right guard Alex Boone and tight end Vernon Davis, have two years remaining on their current contracts as well. It's also notable that the 49ers' front office has made a practice of signing young, but promising players to team-friendly deals with multiple years remaining.
Said Harbaugh: “That’s another thing that I’m on the record for, and expressed that last summer when we talked about a new contract, just my feeling, my principle, just a value, as the leader of the team, if I’m running in for a contract extension every couple years, it has a tendency to send everybody else running for the water cooler.”
Harbaugh rejected the notion that delaying contract talks could end up a distraction in itself. After all, the University of Texas reportedly showed interest in Harbaugh during the 49ers' 2013 season while the Browns inquired about trading for Harbaugh shortly after the season.
“All focus is on the 2014 season and accomplishing our goals,” he said. “I understand your speculation. I think you can afford to be out in front of your headlights more than we can that are in here trying to accomplish our goals. Our energy, our focus is on the 2014 season. I think it’s very refreshing.”