SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Head coach Jim Harbaugh's future with the 49ers is safe for this season. But once 2014 is over, expect his name to the be subject of trade rumors once again, according to a report from ESPN.
Adam Schefter is reporting the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets are expected to show interest in trading for Harbaugh, the first coach in NFL history to take his team to the conference title game in his first three seasons.
There have been numerous reports of tenuous relationships between Harbaugh and members of the 49ers front office, dating back to last season/, which aren't likely to improve after the team fell 19-3 in an embarrassing offensive showing against their division rival Seattle Seahawks.
San Francisco gained a season-low 164 yards in total offense and find themselves at 7-5, likely needing to win their four remaining games to get back to the post season for the fourth straight year. One of those games will be in Seattle, where Harbaugh's team hasn't won since 2011.
Before Thursday's game concluded, 49ers CEO Jed York took to Twitter, writing "Thank you #49ersfaithful for coming out strong tonight. This performance wasn't acceptable. I apologize for that."
The Raiders, San Francisco's next opponent, are currently being led by interim coach Tony Sparano after firing Dennis Allen earlier in the year, becoming the first team to undergo a head coaching change this season.
Oakland entered Sunday at 1-10 and is a candidate to have the No. 1-overall pick in next May's draft. It remains unknown if the Raiders would be willing to part with that pick for Harbaugh's services. The Raiders are the favorites to land him, according to the report.
The Jets (2-9), are still being coached by Rex Ryan, but will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season and appear likely to go another direction at head coach. They are also slated to pick early in the draft, which could entice San Francisco into making a trade.
The report also notes there's a chance Harbaugh remains with the 49ers should he guide the team to an unlikely playoff berth following last week's defeat. Next season is the last year of his five-year, $25 million deal he signed in 2011. It's unlikely Harbaugh stays with San Francisco without signing a new contract extension.
To this point, Harbaugh and the front office have both decided to table those discussions until the season is over.
At last winter's scouting combine, reports surfaced saying the Cleveland Browns were in trade discussions with the 49ers, reportedly offering draft picks before landing Mike Pettine. In the fallout, York said he took the idea to Harbaugh, who had no interest in coaching in Cleveland.