NFL Threatens 49ers with Fines, Lost Picks Over Jim Harbaugh, Alex Smith Talk

Caleb GarlingCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2011

I'm just sayin'!
I'm just sayin'!Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In case you got bored with the NFL Owner/Player Collective Bargaining Agreements, here’s the latest wave.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported this morning that Jim Harbaugh has been "given a very stern warning" by the NFL for talking with Alex Smith about next season. Now, as a 49ers fan, you may want to scold him too, but this speaks to something far larger around these CBA discussions.

The NFL will enforce the rule that coaches and players cannot engage in any football talks. At all. No materials. No playbooks. No team concepts. No talking. No Facebook friending (okay that last one may be conjecture).

It seems the only on-limit discussion is contracts (go figure).

Harbaugh was allegedly trying to have a conversation about Smith’s thoughts on playing with the 49ers for next year, so, you know, he can develop ideas about his 2011 team. According to Mortensen, the NFL responded by threatening with fines and even (gulp) losing draft picks.

Apparently we are equating having an offseason conversation with your quarterback to video-taping an opponent’s practice.

Though, this circus has one more act. This rule is in place because of the union, not the owners. The previous collective bargaining agreement stated that, this particular offseason there would be no organized football activities between a player and coach until March 15, a date after the March 3 deadline for a new CBA.

As if all these proceedings needed more meetings, tonight the NFL Management Council will convene to discuss coach and player protocols in case of a work stoppage. That will resolve how the two groups can interact should we pass the looming deadline and America’s favorite sport hits the ropes.

Until then, shhhhhh.