Leading Off

If Harbaugh leaves, who’s on short list?

Somewhere in 49ers general manager Trent Baalke’s office in Santa Clara is a short list of possible coaching candidates if Jim Harbaugh leaves, is fired or traded – or gets steamrolled by a 300-pound defensive end.

The potential candidates would need to be offensive-minded and work well with young quarterbacks, be able to coach a team with Pro Bowl talent and off-the-field distractions, and expect to not only win immediately but contend for the Super Bowl every season.

One candidate is David Shaw, who took over at Stanford when Harbaugh left for the 49ers. Shaw coached the Cardinal to the Fiesta Bowl and back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances in his first three seasons.

If the 49ers are looking for the opposite of Harbaugh – a quiet, composed coach on the sideline with a more engaging personality – he should be at the top of Baalke’s list.

Could Baalke lure Jon Gruden out of ESPN’s broadcast booth? Could Gruden pass on the challenge of coaching Colin Kaepernick and taking the 49ers to a Super Bowl in his first season, as he did with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Greg Roman, the 49ers’ offensive coordinator, played a big role in the 49ers getting to three consecutive NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. His play-calling this season, however, has been questioned.

Jim Tomsula, the 49ers’ defensive-line coach, was been with the team since 2007, and he won the 2010 regular-season finale as the interim coach after Mike Singletary was fired. He was a candidate before Harbaugh was hired and has interviewed for other head-coaching jobs. His loyalty to the 49ers and the York family could carry weight.

– Victor Contreras


Today’s poll

Monday’s poll results

Where will Jim Harbaugh go if he leaves the 49ers?

▪ Michigan: 67%

▪ Another college: 1%

▪ Raiders: 12%

▪ Cowboys: 2%

▪ Another NFL team: 18%

Total votes: 509

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