Jim Harbaugh [left] and Trent Baalke [right] with 49ers safety Eric Reid.
Do head coach Jim Harbaugh and 49ers general manager Trent Baalke really hate each other?
That seems to be the case—at least according to nearly every major media outlet.
This story has been floating around since the end of last year, when San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami wrote a story describing the competitive tension between the two. Last season, Harbaugh announced that he would be re-signing one of his former Stanford players, Owen Marecic, as a replacement for an injured fullback on the 49ers' roster.
Marecic had a short, inactive stint with the team, and many were surprised when Harbaugh announced that he would be returning; but despite the announcement, Marecic never ended up coming back, a decision credited to Baalke.
Though this is just a small insight into what is happening behind the scenes, it does give us a glimpse into the team's organization and what could be some of the tension between Harbaugh and Baalke.
In an article for Sports Illustrated Audibles, Doug Farrar suggested that the two men may have had disagreements over personnel decisions, and Harbaugh may very well be upset with Baalke for drafts in 2012 and 2013 that netted one starter, a development that could devastate the team's championship hopes in light of its aging roster.
Their working relationship was questioned yet again when rumors began to swirl that the Cleveland Browns had made a push to hire Harbaugh as their head coach, though Harbaugh and 49ers CEO Jed York both vehemently denied the claims, and Sports Illustrated Audibles reported that Harbaugh's name was not submitted in a final league coaching search.
While the tension between the two may certainly be real, competitive disagreements don't necessarily mean the team will implode, and Harbaugh and Baalke may realize that despite the strain between the two, they make one of the best head coach/general manager duos in the NFL. Baalke has done an excellent job of signing players who have taken the team to three straight NFC Championships, and Harbaugh has used his knowledge of the game and unique motivational techniques to coach the team there every year since his arrival.
There's no doubt that the two have had disagreements in the past, per multiple sources, but the media tends to latch on to what they believe is a story, regardless of how valid it may actually be. Chances are, given the success of the 49ers in the past three years, the two men realize they're better off with each other than without if they want to complete their quest for six rings.
With this in mind, the Harbaugh and Baalke drama is taking the fifth spot on the countdown.