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Trent Baalke: Rumors of friction with Jim Harbaugh are ‘totally off base’

Jim HarbaughThe word over the past several months has been that San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke don’t get along, but both have dismissed that talk.

In December, the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami reported that there was some tension between Harbaugh and Baalke. A few days later, Pro Football Talk reported that the tension described by Kawakami is real.

Harbaugh’s issues with Baalke or the organization in general appeared to manifest themselves when there was talk of the team trading the coach to the Cleveland Browns. But The Monday Morning Quarterback’s Greg Bedard spent a few days with the Niners organization and came away with the conclusion that despite clashing on some issues, the relationship with Baalke and Harbaugh remains a working one.

In fact, Baalke dismisses all the notions of friction when speaking with Bedard.

“I’ve seen so much written that it doesn’t make sense to me,” Baalke told Bedard. “They don’t know us. And to put words into our mouths is unfair. To read into it is unfair. This is a competitive business, and the only way to survive is to be highly competitive. And everyone in this organization is highly competitive, just like any other.

“It’s a highly competitive environment. We like that. That’s what we thrive on. So to say that the relationship is strained or it’s a relationship that can’t coexist is totally off base. Totally off base.”

Harbaugh similarly dismissed any issues, describing the relationship as “healthy” and “successful.”

Maybe they really are just two competitive guys who happen to clash at times the way many co-workers would. Or maybe they’re good at masking the issues.

But the real way to show that there aren’t any problems will be for Harbaugh to finally sign a contract extension with the team. Why would they shop him to Cleveland if they weren’t OK with him leaving?

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John Madden: Niners should choose Jim Harbaugh over ‘suit’ Trent Baalke

Jim-Harbaugh-Blue-Collar-49ers-ShirtsWith Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers’ front office experiencing some tension as of late, some are wondering if Harbaugh’s days with the Niners could be numbered. The head coach is reportedly “barely speaking” to general manager Trent Baalke, and there has been some talk of the team potentially having to choose between the two.

If you ask John Madden, that choice would be easy.

“Jim Harbaugh has done a great job of coaching in the NFL no matter how you put it,” John Madden told the KCBS Radio morning crew earlier this week. “Getting to three championship games in a row with that group or with any group is a heck of a thing that he’s done. You tell me where they’re going to get a guy that’s any better than him? It’s a lot easier to get a suit than it is to get a coach.”

Personally, I agree with Madden. Baalke has a challenging job when it comes to assembling a team and operating within the constraints of the salary cap, but Harbaugh has had an instant impact since coming into the NFL. Finding a head coach who can win consistently is a very difficult task.

Harbaugh’s current contract with the Niners expires after the 2015 season. He probably would have had a new contract by now if not for bickering behind closed doors. The team would be wise to work it out and extend him, otherwise some other NFL team will be getting a rare commodity.

H/T Pro Football Talk