Harbaugh buzz makes time right for contract extension

Harbaugh: LaRussa has been a great mentor

Harbaugh buzz makes time right for contract extension
December 11, 2013, 9:15 am
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Jim Harbaugh is in the third year of a five-year, $25 million contract, which makes him the third-highest paid coach in the NFC West. (AP)

Programming note: Watch Wednesday’s 49ers press conference with head coach Jim Harbaugh streaming live right here at 11:55 a.m.  

The buzz out of Texas is that 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is on the school’s short list of targets to replace Mack Brown, whose tenure as Longhorns head coach appears to be coming to an end.

Of course, it seems highly unlikely Harbaugh would leave the all-waking-hours-devoted-to-football life of the NFL to return to college. He does not have to worry about the academics of his players. He does not have to concern himself with the university administration.

Everybody in the building at the 49ers’ offices have one objective, and that’s to make sure Harbaugh has everything he needs in order for his team to win football games.

The 49ers were home for the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons before Harbaugh’s arrival from Stanford in January 2011. Now, the 49ers will be going to the playoffs for the third consecutive year under Harbaugh’s leadership. The 49ers could wrap up a spot in the NFC playoffs as early as Sunday.

The speculation that Texas could go after Harbaugh, however, could be the impetus for the inevitable. With the thought the football school could throw big money at Harbaugh, it's reasonable to believe the climate is right – perhaps, shortly after the season -- for the 49ers to present him with a lucrative contract extension.

Harbaugh is in the third year of a five-year, $25 million contract. Nine pro head coaches make more than $6 million annually, including New England’s Bill Belichick and Kansas City’s Andy Reid at $7.5 million per year.

How much is Harbaugh worth? Consider that Harbaugh is the third-highest paid coach in the NFC West, and you have a pretty good idea that Harbaugh’s next deal will undoubtedly take him above the $7-million-a-year salaries of Seattle’s Pete Carroll and St. Louis’ Jeff Fisher.