If you can’t get enough of the palace intrigue in the 49ers’ principality, you must be a Seahawks fan. The region-wide giggle-fest is beginning to show on seismometers. A Beat Quake.
Or if you prefer psychology to geology, the term is scha·den·freu·de (shahd-n-froi-duh), noun: Satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.
As you must have heard by now, the ruling junta of strongman Jim Harbaugh and procurement minister Trent Baalke is in tumult. The background simmer between the two aspirants to control the kingdom hit full boil a few days after the 49ers lost the NFC Championship game to the Seahawks.
Harbaugh reportedly took a call from the Cleveland Browns seeking permission to talk to an assistant coach about the Browns head coaching vacancy when Harbaugh said something to the effect of, “Hey . . . whaddabout me?”
The story, first reported at profootballtalk.com, overtook the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis. Everyone looked up from their stopwatches to stare west at the castle above the bay, flames leaping from parapets.
Why would Harbaugh, who has taken the 49ers to three successive NFC Championships, want to decamp for Cleveland, as far away as a team can get from an NFL title without leaving the planet’s surface?
It’s because, according to longtime Niners observer Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, Harbaugh is hard-wired to scorch the earth, even when he is upon it:
The latest episode is just a nuclear wake-up call for the 49ers principals: As long as Harbaugh is their coach, he will agitate for money and influence and maybe also just for the sake of agitation.
It’s just the way Harbaugh operates and always has; it’s part of what makes him a great and frantic coach.
He’s at his best when there’s dysfunction above and near him; when it’s too calm, he’ll shake up things himself just to get it going again.
As a combo Eddie Haskell/Arthur Fonzarelli/Kramer, Harbaugh is the high-maintenance, high-energy soul-sucker that annoys the hell out of friend and foe at the same time he is irresistible. Kawakami points out that Harbaugh, college and pro, has never held a job longer than four years, and he’s entering his fourth season in San Francisco. His long-anticipated contract extension has yet to happen, and now maybe one or both parties don’t want it to happen.
A sober, prudent Seahawks fan will counsel against saying “YAAAA-HAAAAH!” knowing that karmic payback awaits those who mock the misfortunes of others.
Sure, that caution is a nice lesson for the sake of the kidlets. But it doesn’t apply here.
The Seahawks have already been there and done stuff like this, and worse. Several times. It is simply no longer their turn in the crucible of men behaving badly.
Or have you forgotten that Seahawks coach Jack Patera was busted for DUI and fired the team’s union rep, resulting in fans mailing the team-owning Nordstroms their credit cards, cut up?
Or that one of the trusted aides to owner Ken Behring stood trial for ordering the murder-by-crossbow of a former business associate?
Or that Behring was sued by a former employee for sexual assault, her lawyer claiming Behring “prides himself on being a great hunter and travels the world hunting and killing animals. I think he believes he has a hunting license for women that he fancies.”
How about the time the Seahawks hired a football executive, Bob Ferguson, specifically to keep President Bob Whitsitt and coach Mike Holmgren from breaking furniture over one another?
More recently, the Seahawks nudged coach Mike Holmgren out the door, pleasing the man who didn’t like him, GM Tim Ruskell, only to fire Ruskell, then fire three weeks later the coach Ruskell brought in to succeed Holmgren, Jim Mora, after just a single season.
Wurlitzer has yet to make a weapons-grade calliope sufficient to have kept up with the Seahawks circus.
Now, coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider get along so well that they won a Super Bowl together and are about one von Trapp short of starring in a sequel to “The Sound of Music.” Tra-damn-la is everywhere.
Few are those who have a nose so sensitive that they can still detect the three-decade tire fire that preceded the aroma of fresh-baked dominance. The smoke has dissipated here, but it rises in San Francisco, and really, and in about every other NFL city where recent success has eluded the local gridiron unit.
News that Harbaugh and Baalke are about to load up on lances, maces, chain mail and armored steeds to have at one another is momentarily surprising. But upon further review, not necessarily shocking. As meritorious as have been their combined accomplishments, they have not won it all.
This is the NFL, where, as 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick might have put it, one more foot on the final pass would have changed everything. But there was not one more foot, and the coach is taking calls from the Browns.