SANTA CLARA -- The only thing different in the contract situations surrounding Pete Carroll a year ago and Jim Harbaugh right now is the intrigue.
Nobody was discussing Carroll’s long-term future with the Seattle Seahawks. He entered the fourth year of his original five-year contract without much discussion.
The Seahawks had finished behind the 49ers twice in a row. But Carroll cashed in with a contract extension that league sources estimate at around $9 million a season after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl.
Jed York, the 49ers’ CEO, talked contract with Harbaugh after the 49ers’ Super Bowl appearance in February 2013. The sides did not reach an agreement. This offseason, the sides again discussed an extension.
Again, there was no agreement.
York told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Thursday he and Harbaugh mutually agreed on Wednesday to table all contract talks until the offseason.
“We just said, 'You know what, let's not do anything during the season. Let's sit down a week or so after the season is over and let everybody know we're not focused on anything that's off the field right now,’” York said.
“Jim and I will sit down a week or so after the season is over and we'll figure out where we go.”
Harbaugh enters the fourth year of the five-year, $25 million contract he signed in January 2011 when the 49ers lured him away from the program he built at Stanford.
Obviously, Harbaugh is in line for a big bump in pay with his next contract. And if the 49ers are not willing to break the bank for him, there surely will be another organization eager to hand over a blank check.
“For the record,” Harbaugh told Bleacher Report this week, “I have never asked to be the highest-paid coach in football. I have never asked to be paid like a Super Bowl-winning coach. I have never asked for more power. Nor has anybody asked for those things on my behalf, which anybody in this organization can attest to, and all the focus will be on the 2014 season and achieving our goals of the team.”
Currently, New England's Bill Belichick is believed to be the league's highest-paid coach at an estimated $10 million. If the 49ers are unwilling to pay Harbaugh like a “Super Bowl-winning” coach until he wins a Super Bowl, there’s only one problem with that logic: There are three coaches -- Andy Reid, Jeff Fisher and Chip Kelly -- reportedly earning $6.5 million or more per season who have never won a Super Bowl.
In fact, Carroll was making a reported $7 million a season before he signed his extension in the offseason.
York’s recommendation to next talk with Harbaugh about his contract after the season is a wise move. After all, it was clear from the moment last season concluded that neither side’s position would change from the previous year.
But it will not stop others from talking about it. Harbaugh’s future with the 49ers will continue to be one of the main storylines of the 49ers' 2014 season.