When a Buffalo Bills blogger develops a fantasy world in which a superstar head coach is interested in coaching a moribund franchise, everyone scoffs.
It’s looking more likely with each passing 49ers game that Jim Harbaugh will be coaching elsewhere next season. His relationship with 49ers director of personal, Trent Baalke, is toxic, but this is hardly news. It’s been years now since rumblings of Harbaugh and Trent Baalke’s feud surfaced, but this season the 49ers have struggled an usual amount. As a result, the tension between the two is building to a War Of The Roses style climax, this despite their quite fruitful relationship.
Initially Harbaugh got along well enough with Baalke and developed group of underachievers into a self-actualized team, who’s made the Super Bowl, as well as the conference championship three times, in four seasons. The tension between the two alphas, however intense it is, produces a lot of wins. And Harbaugh definitely loves winning.
Not to mention, leaving a winning franchise like the 49ers means also killing his rivalry with Pete Carroll. Carroll, a favourite dartboard target, provides the sort of antagonist who motivates an already motivated Harbaugh. How would he fare in a division like the NFC North with their collection of mild-mannered coaches? Hard to tell, but it’s a consideration.
Considering the success, as well as the rivalry the 49ers offer, it’s crazy to think Harbaugh wants to move on. But maybe he just needs a change, even a little one to shake things up. Harbaugh isn’t as crazy as you think…
once you evaluate his potential suitors.
Harbaugh has potential rebounds lined up, like the “Anyone will do tonight” Oakland Raiders, and his alma mater, Michigan. It’s safe to say, neither of those two will ever become Facebook status worthy. The Raiders’ basis of appeal hinges on Harbaugh living close to the stadium. Not to mention, his insatiable thirst for victory won’t jive with accepting defeat to SEC opponents before the season even starts. Those two aren’t even options really, because for NFL coaches, there is no such thing as a one night stand; you are contractually committed. That’s why Harbaugh needs to consider a long-term rebound, someone he can actually commit to–for four years.
Those mired in an unhealthy relationship cycle will know that one tends to gravitate to new relationships that aren’t really new.* The Buffalo Bills can give such a familiarity, because as crazy as it sounds, the Bills are kind of like the 49ers, circa four years ago.
The similarities are striking, such as a reported feud between Buffalo Bills GM Doug Whaley and head coach Doug Marrone. I’m sure Whaley and Harbaugh can remain civil long enough to have the Bills firing on all cylinders. From learned experience, the potential conflict won’t deter him. Harbaugh knows it can work for four years at the very least.
The similarities don’t stop there: the Bills have a familiar roster, too. Consider first, the talented Bills roster mismanaged, and poorly coached, underachieving for years.** Moreover, Kyle Orton is the perfect Alex Smith, to EJ Manuel’s Colin Kaepernick. The familiar roster will entice Harbaugh.
Beyond the tension, and palatable roster, the Bills offer an antagonist worthy of Pete Carroll, in the form of Bill Belichick.*** Sure, Harbaugh and Belichick don’t have a college rivalry stemming to their PAC-10 days, but is it unreasonable to think the zealous Harbaugh should be tantalized by the opportunity to face the G.O.A.T. twice a year?
Sure, the Buffalo Bills**** don’t offer a mature experience for the coach, but they do offer a framework he’s succeeded with. And, I’m sure Harbaugh is more concerned with winning than in developing a healthy relationship–even knowing exactly how it ends every time.
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*Not bitter or anything.
**The Bills defense has been well coached–by two different coordinators
*** Keep Jim Schwartz! Schwartz is the perfect nemesis who becomes unwilling partners with Harbaugh. Through their shared adventures they learn to coexist for the greater good. It’s either the inspiration for a buddy action flick, or, the plot of Draft Day II.
**** In this post I operate under the assumption that Doug Marrone is fired, or Bills management would fire him, if Harbaugh became available.