The 49ers were a mess when Harbaugh took over prior to the 2011 season. While the roster was littered with talent, they were unable to find any success as the team stumbled year after year. From 2003-2010, San Francisco went 46-82 with no playoffs appearances. In the three seasons since Harbaugh took the reigns, the Niners are 36-11-1 and have appeared in three straight NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl.
The one frustrating part of Harbaugh’s run has been the team’s inability to climb the mountain and win the Lombardi Trophy, but it’s not as if the team hasn’t been excruciatingly close.
In 2011, they were a Kyle Williams fumble (or two) away from the Super Bowl and matched up well against a New England Patriots team that ultimately lost the championship to the New York Giants. The 49ers were five yards from winning it all against the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, but couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone. This past season, only a Colin Kaepernick interception in the closing moments of the fourth quarter kept them from beating a Seahawks team that would go on to win the title in a 43-8 rout of the Denver Broncos.
Despite the failures at the end, the 49ers’ championship window is still open, and could be for some time if Kaepernick continues to develop.
Harbaugh has two seasons left on the five-year, $25 million contract he originally signed. While he might not get the money Carroll does, Harbaugh deserves to be in the ballpark. Adding three years to the deal at $7 million per season would be a fair offer for Harbaugh and one he would probably take.
San Francisco has every right to wait until after 2014 before finalizing anything with their coach, but if the 49ers want to maintain stability and avoid rumors that might surface (for example, the recent report that stated the Cleveland Browns inquired about trading for Harbaugh), Jed York should make it a priority to lock Harbaugh up for the foreseeable future.