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Jim Harbaugh’s act wearing thin in 49ers locker room?

Jim HarbaughJim Harbaugh’s situation with the San Francisco 49ers is sure to be one of the more interesting stories to follow this offseason.

Harbaugh is entering the final year of his contract and has not signed an extension with the team. Is that because he doesn’t like staying in one place very long and likes to keep his options over? Is it because the Niners are not offering him the type of deal he feels he deserves? Or is it because he’s not getting along with GM Trent Baalke? It could be a combination of reasons, but one other factor here is that the Niners may be ready to move on from Harbaugh.

Not only was there a recent report saying the Niners discussed trading Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns, but a new report says the head coach’s act is wearing thin in the locker room.

Here’s what the SF Chronicle’s Ann Killion reported Saturday:

And from what I’ve been told, the tension isn’t just upstairs in the building. One source with inside knowledge of the team says that Harbaugh’s act has worn thin in the locker room, particularly among some key “face of the 49ers” type players. While the team is winning, that’s not a problem. But a few losses could expose a widening rift.

Is this because Harbaugh has a difficult personality and comes off as a jerk? Or could this just be a matter of some players getting tired of a coach over the years?

All I know is that winning seems to cure all issues. As long as the Niners are winning, I’m sure most players will be fine with Harbaugh’s coaching. And if they win the Super Bowl, I’m pretty sure the 49ers front office will be happy.

Helmet smack to Pro Football Talk

Phil Jackson: Shaq played ‘clown role,’ which led to rift with Kobe Bryant

Robert-Horry-Phil-Jackson-Started-Shaq-Kobe-FeudThe relationship between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal deteriorated quickly after the Los Angeles Lakers won three-straight championships at the turn of the century. There are a variety of reasons that happened, and it’s always a bonus when we get to hear Phil Jackson’s take on the subject.

While speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston on Friday, Jackson said that Shaq’s work ethic and lack of commitment ultimately led to the downfall between him and Kobe.

“Shaq didn’t work at it,” Jackson said. “It was too easy. He was too big and it was too easy for him. He had his clown role that he had to play. That’s a wonderful role for him.

“I think the wedge between (Shaq and Kobe) was when Shaq opted not to get an operation until right before the season when he could have had it right after the season. That resulted in not allowing us to win four (championships) in a row in Kobe’s mind.”

The surgery Jackson was referring to happened in 2002, when Shaq waited until just before training camp to have surgery on his injured toe. His explanation was that he got hurt on company time so he would rather heal on company time. Jackson said that Kobe was more like Michael Jordan with the way he worked, so he clashed with Shaq.

“Michael Jordan was a tremendous player who overcame a lot of deficiencies in his game,” Jackson said. “He couldn’t play defense. He couldn’t hit an outside shot. All of those things disappeared with his work ethic. Kobe saw that as a pinnacle that he had to reach and went beyond that, actually.”

Some people believe Jackson is the one who started the rift between Shaq and Kobe, though the things the two stars have said publicly make that seem unlikely. Have you seen Shaq’s Buick commercials and his analysis on TNT? We all know he loves to mess around. I’m sure that got old for Kobe, who was chasing MJ’s legacy.

Video via CBS Los Angeles

Adam Muema lived in airport for three days, was still wearing combine clothes

Adam MuemaAdam Muema was found on Thursday, four days after the former San Diego State running back left the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and was unreachable to his friends and family.

On Friday, Muema was headed back to Southern California — where he grew up — and all indications are that he is doing fine physically and in good spirits.

UT San Diego has the full story on the latest with Muema. The paper was able to reach ex-Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson, a player with whom Muema had been training leading up to the combine. Nelson told the paper that Muema called him on Thursday and asked to be picked up from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida.

“He said he was at the airport for three days straight,” Nelson told UT San Diego. “He was telling me when I picked him up that God told him to stay at the airport and don’t do anything. Just stay there. That’s what he did for three days straight.

“On the fourth day, he told me he couldn’t do it anymore. He decided to call me.”

Nelson described Muema as cheerful and said the Aztecs’ fourth-leading career rusher was still wearing his combine clothes when he was picked up.

You may recall that Muema told UT San Diego he left the combine last Sunday because god told him to and that he would be drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. He had been staying in the airport since his flight from Indianapolis arrived on Monday.

It sounds like there is nothing wrong with Muema and I’m not about to dispute or question his beliefs. I just know that based on his behavior at the combine, I wouldn’t risk taking him if I were an NFL team.

Helmet smack to Shutdown Corner

Report: Richie Incognito told police he smashed his own car with bat

Richie Incognito Ferrari

Richie Incognito’s black Ferrari was vandalized with a baseball bat on Wednesday night. TMZ shared some photos of what they said was Incognito’s car with a piece of the bat hanging from the grill and red shirts hanging from the car that supposedly had Incognito’s name on them. According to the Scottsdale Police Department, Incognito says he trashed the car himself.

In a follow-up, TMZ reported that Incognito spoke with police on Thursday morning and told them he vandalized the car in a fit of rage. It is unclear what set him off or if he is telling the truth.

“(The neighbors) provided us with a photo of a damaged car and reported it to belong to Mr. Incognito, and they gave us an address,” Scottsdale Police Sergeant Mark Clark said, via USA Today Sports. “We went out there and checked to see if there was a damaged car there. There was no car and no one answered the door.

“We went out there again this morning and we were able to contact Mr. Incognito and he reported that he damaged his own car and didn’t need any police help or report.”

We have seen videos of Incognito dropping the N-bomb in a shirtless fit of rage, so we know he has a tendency to get pretty wound up. That said, something doesn’t add up. What was up with the shirts that supposedly had Incognito’s name written on them? Did he write his name on a couple of shirts and toss them on his car before going HAM on it? Unless he really is that much of an irrational spaz, a piece of the story is missing.

(photo via Twitter/hma400 is of Incognito’s Ferrari but not one of the post-smash photos)

Barry Switzer: Johnny Manziel is an ‘arrogant little prick’ with ‘staggering’ ability

Johnny ManzielLegendary Oklahoma Sooners coach Barry Switzer has never been shy when sharing his opinion on Johnny Manziel or anything else related to football. The three-time national champion coach loves Manziel’s game, but he hates his attitude. He reiterated that during an appearance on CBS Sports Radio’s “The Morning After” show in St. Louis on Wednesday.

“I don’t like Johnny Manziel’s antics,” Switzer said, according to host Tim McKernan. “He’s an arrogant little prick.”

Back in September, Switzer said he wanted to jerk Manziel’s facemask after the way he dismissed Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin on the sidelines. But once he was done insulting Manziel for the way he carries himself, Switzer offered some of the highest praise of Johnny Football’s game that we have heard.

“I’ve never seen a college football quarterback do what he does,” he said. “It’s staggering … he’s the most dominant college football quarterback I’ve seen in a long time.I ‘ve compared Manziel to Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson. He takes over a game like those guys did.”

Having won three championships at the college level and a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys, Switzer has certainly earned the right to share his opinion. While Ron Jaworski does not think any team should draft Manziel within the first three rounds, Switzer said the Rams would be silly to pass on him at No. 2 overall.

In some cases, arrogance can work in a player’s favor. As long as Manziel continues to show that he is more focused on improving his game living it up, he’s a risk worth taking for several NFL teams.

H/T SI Wire

Aaron Hernandez reportedly attacked another inmate

Aaron HernandezAaron Hernandez has managed to keep a relatively low profile since he was arrested and sent to Bristol County House of Corrections over the summer, but that changed on Tuesday when TMZ reported that Hernandez attacked a fellow inmate.

Hernandez, who has been kept in solitary confinement while behind bars, was apparently allowed to walk down an isolated hallway at some point on Tuesday. TMZ’s sources say he somehow came in contact with another inmate during that time and decided to attack him. Hernandez reportedly beat up the other prisoner “pretty badly.”

Hernandez and the other inmate are said to have been “beefing” all day long, with the victim harassing Hernandez nonstop and angering him.

The story is bizarre given how adamant officials have allegedly been about keeping Hernandez separated from other inmates. He was not even allowed to watch the Patriots games during the playoffs because that would require watching TV with his peers.

There’s likely more to the story, and we’ll pass it along when we get it.

Dan Rooney told Steelers to stop using N-word in locker room

Dan-RooneyThe NFL is giving strong consideration to adopting a rule that would result in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the use of a racial slur. The Pittsburgh Steelers are one team that would likely be in favor of the rule, as team chairman Dan Rooney has already told his players to stop using the N-word in the locker room.

Steelers safety Ryan Clark said Rooney told the team last season that he did not want to hear his players using the N-word or listening to music that featured it.

“Mr. Rooney actually talked to Ike Taylor about it this season,” Clark said on ESPN Sunday night, via Pro Football Talk. “Ike and Mr. Rooney have a very good relationship. He told Ike, ‘I don’t want you guys using that word.’

“Ike went around to specific people and said, ‘Listen, this is what Mr. Rooney told me.’ He’s the ambassador. We call him Old Man Rooney. He has a lot of respect, and because of the way he has treated us as players, as black athletes, also treated Coach Tomlin as a black coach, you know it’s coming from a place of love.”

Rooney is a former US ambassador to Ireland and is well respected among the Steelers players. Clark said the players respected Rooney’s request at first, but the word started making its way back into everyday situations shortly thereafter.

“You stopped hearing it immediately that day,” he said. “But after a while it came back because it’s the culture. After a while it comes back because this is what these guys have grown up with.”

This is another good example of how NFL culture is in need of a change. With the prospect of openly gay athletes soon being a part of NFL locker rooms, words like “fag” and “queer” should be cut out of players’ vocabularies as well. It will take a lot of time before we stop hearing them altogether.