It was a complete and utter circus at times. And yet, the last 72 hours of Jim Harbaugh: The Decision 2011 was the most excitement associated with the 49ers since, dare I say it, 1998 and The Catch II.
In the end, the 49ers got their man, the hottest NFL coaching candidate on the planet. True enough, Jim Harbaugh has yet to win a game in the NFL and 49er fans have endured three coaching changes over the last decade with less than stellar results. Yet this just feels different. Maybe it was Harbaugh’s unshakeable confidence in declaring that “We will install the West Coast Offense” or maybe it’s the fact that Harbaugh is a Bay Area icon. Yet even someone as myself, who has been more than critical of the team for the past several years, can’t help but get caught up in this moment and expect the franchise to turn its fortunes.Credit has to be given to Jed York and Trent Baalke. Jed went from an inexperienced 29 year old boy to a man in the process. Baalke went from an unknown entity asking for a bad joke at the expense of Perfect Strangers to the man that could bring the ‘Baugh. And in landing the Orange Bowl winning coach, the 49ers did not waver. They did not offer more money than the reported 8 million dollars that Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross was ready to offer. They did not concede control of the franchise to Harbaugh, instead opting to let Baalke have control of the 53-man roster. Last year, the Seahawks paid 1.5 million dollars more per season for Pete Carroll. In a nutshell, Jed and Baalke get an A+ grade.
Now the real work begins. The 49ers must tinker their roster and find a quarterback that can lead them into the playoffs and win Super Bowls. That’s what 49er fans expect. It was unclear for years if that was what the organization expected. But now it’s evident. A new era of 49er football begins, and this time the franchise’s glorious past doesn’t seem like an afterthought. Somewhere, Bill Walsh is smiling.