Jim Harbaugh could just go across San Francisco Bay after this season but, looking at what’s there, I think it’s more likely he’ll head back to the Midwest, where he played college and pro ball.
Taking over as the Raiders’ coach would be a natural in many respects. Though the Raiders have won only three games this season, they have accumulated several good players through the draft, including a quarterback, Derek Carr. Taken early in the second round, Carr has been much more successful than more heralded rookie quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel.
Harbaugh would have a good relationship with general manager Reggie McKenzie, and the Raiders haven’t loaded up on tech guys in the front office, as the 49ers have. I suspect Harbaugh’s problems with the 49ers’ front office come mostly from the tech guys who, except for Parag Marathe, have been more nuisance than help.
But there is one serious problem with the Raiders: owner Mark Davis. At the news conference announcing McKenzie’s hiring, Davis said he would leave football decisions to McKenzie, which was the smart thing to do. He had not even been around the Raiders for about 30 years until he and his dad had a reunion before a practice. I was there to see it.
For a while, Mark Davis stuck with his decision, listening to Ron Wolf and John Madden. But being an NFL owner is a heady experience. He was being asked questions about the team and its future and, all of a sudden, he was making a trip to San Antonio, which ended with the mayor saying there was a 50-50 chance the Raiders would move there. In reality, there is no chance.
But Mark keeps hinting that the Raiders will move if they don’t get a new stadium. That isn’t going to happen, either. Incoming Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has said she is opposed to any public money going to a new football stadium. Taxpayers are still paying for improvements to the current structure.
There is an easy alternative for the Raiders after the 2015 season (they have reportedly agreed to a one-year extension at O.co Coliseum): Move into the new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, which was built to house two teams. But Davis has rejected that proposal because the ridiculous shrine to Mad Al would have to be left behind.
Somehow, I can’t see Harbaugh getting involved in that soap opera, but there’s an easy alternative: Go to the Chicago Bears.
The Bears desperately need rescuing from the misery they’ve fallen into. It’s their own fault, of course. Marc Trestman’s only head-coaching experience was in the Canadian Football League, which is nothing like the NFL. Thinking he would be a good NFL coach was a ridiculous reach.
With the Bears, Harbaugh could probably pick his general manager, who would be subordinate to him. Anybody who knows Harbaugh knows this would always be his first choice. I think he could even make a good quarterback out of Jay Cutler, who is talented but undisciplined.
Of course, he would be gone in three years. He’s an excellent coach but he’s much like Bill Parcells: He has to keep moving on because he just wears people out.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.