Jim Harbaugh said he is willing to sit at the negotiating table with 49ers CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke to discuss his future after his team was officially eliminated from playoff contention Sunday.
Whether or not San Francisco's brass wants him back is entirely up in the air.
"I'm always available to sit down with the owner or general manager, absolutely," Harbaugh said, before noting he expects to sit down with them "at some point."
Reports from national outlets infiltrating the 49ers' 2014 season have all indicated Harbaugh would not be back with the team in 2015, the last year of his five-year, $25 million deal he signed in 2011.
The 49ers (7-7) were eliminated from postseason contention after Sunday's 17-7 loss to Seattle after York mandated Super-Bowl-or-bust expectations earlier in the year.
"He has my full support if he’s here or somewhere else,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said of his embattled head coach after the game.
York and Harbaugh were unable to come to a contract extension last offseason after Harbaugh became the first coach in NFL history to reach the conference title game in his first three seasons. And in February of 2013, the 49ers came up five yards short of the go-ahead touchdown in Super Bowl 47's loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the final moments of the fourth quarter.
With Harbaugh still under contract for one more season, the team could explore trading him for draft picks, as they reportedly were interested in doing last offseason with the Cleveland Browns.
But Harbaugh would have to sign off on any deal, which would be complicated by negotiating a contract with the new team and compliance with the 'Rooney Rule.' There's also the question of whether or not Harbaugh would want to go to a team that is giving up assets, when the 49ers could potentially fire him, putting him on the open market where a team wouldn't need to make a trade for his services.
Simply put, Harbaugh has the leverage to dictate his future and could negate any trades, forcing the 49ers to fire him. A possible, but highly unlikely scenario, would be Harbaugh returning next season in the final year of his contract if three parties cannot agree to a trade with a new team.
York drew a line in the sand following the team's dreadful 164-yard performance in a 19-3 loss to the Seahawks on Thanksgiving with a Tweet, writing: "Thank you #49ersfaithful for coming out strong tonight. This performance wasn't acceptable. I apologize for that"
Since then, Harbaugh has been resolute about not worrying about his future.
“I don’t worry about my future," he said earlier this month. "(I) Haven’t participated in any of that speculation. I think I have a recessive gene for worrying about my own future. What I want is - I want to attack this week. I want to get this right.”