Leading Off

Leading off: Money? Harbaugh wants 49ers’ respect

Jim Harbaugh leaving a Super Bowl contender like the 49ers for the Cleveland Browns, who are just super bad, would be like Tom Brady leaving his model-wife, Gisele Bundchen, for Miss Piggy.

It’s just not possible.

But what is possible is Harbaugh leaving the 49ers unless he gets a contract extension that will make him the highest-paid coach in the NFL – even though he hasn’t won a Super Bowl.

What Harbaugh has done in the first three years of his five-year contract, which pays him just more than $5 million per season, is help restore a once-proud franchise that had been wrecked for years. Three years, three trips to the NFC Championship Game and one Super Bowl appearance. Honestly, it should be three appearances.

Now Harbaugh wants to be paid. But if you think he’s reportedly asking for $10 million per season because he’s greedy, think again. Remember, this is a guy who wears $8 pleated khakis and drives an older-model car – not because he has to but because that’s who he is.

More than anything, Harbaugh wants CEO Jed York and the 49ers to show him respect as the best and most-coveted coach in the NFL. And if the 49ers don’t believe he is, Harbaugh will find a team that does. Teams may not be able to buy wins, but they can buy coaches.

Will York be the first to blink in the negotiations and open his wallet? Or will he stand his ground, believing that general manager Trent Baalke can find anyone to coach the 49ers?

With the 49ers opening a $1.2 billion stadium in six months and hosting the Super Bowl in 2016, York can’t be wrong in his decision.

– Victor Contreras

vcontreras@sacbee.com


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