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SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ decision to table contract talks with coach Jim Harbaugh until after the season strongly suggests a disagreement between the sides.
But 49ers CEO Jed York told CSNBayArea.com on Friday morning that money has not been the sticking point in executing a contract extension with Harbaugh, who enters the fourth season of his original five-year, $25 million contract.
“There’s not some crazy divide of where we are,” York said. “When we talked about a deal, Jim very clearly said, ‘I don’t want to do a deal too early because as a leader of the team, I don’t want to set that precedent.’
"When we talked about the contract we offered, it wasn’t Jim demanding to be the highest-paid coach. It was him saying, ‘I don’t think now is the right time because it sets the wrong precedent.’ "
York revealed that he spoke with Harbaugh about his contract on Wednesday, and both men agreed to wait until after the season to pursue the issue any further.
“We’ve talked about not setting the wrong precedent of a leader going and trying to ask for more money early on in his deal,” York said. “Jim was pretty much the one who drove that home and said, ‘Let’s just circle a date on the calendar a week or so after the season is over and we’ll talk about it at that point’ because it really hasn’t been on our minds.”
York and Harbaugh spoke about the possibility of a contract extension after the 49ers’ Super Bowl season of 2012. And they re-entered into discussions this offseason, too, amid rumors and reports of acrimony between Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke.
“There’s discomfort in the building because we haven’t achieved our ultimate goal, but everybody feels that in their own way,” York said. “That’s the only thing we’re looking toward. And that’s why we want to focus on the 2014 season.”
Harbaugh’s future with the 49ers became a hot topic this offseason after the Cleveland Browns asked York about the possibility of acquiring Harbaugh in a trade. Harbaugh has taken the 49ers to the NFC Championship game in three consecutive seasons, following a string of eight of non-winning seasons for the franchise prior to Harbaugh’s arrival.
York said he wants to keep Harbaugh as his coach well beyond his current contract.
“We want Jim to be our head coach,” York said. “I don’t know what else we can say to dispel any of those rumors. We’d like Jim to be our head coach.
“Instead of dealing with this (contract) and making it a distraction in a year in which we feel very good about our football team, we’re focusing on getting better every single day. We want to make it very clear there’s no disconnection here. We’re on the exact same page, and we’re going to sit down and talk about his contract at the end of the year.”