Short-attention-span reading, and writing ...
Jim Harbaugh went on an interesting tangent at his season-wrap news conference this week, praising the Bay Area media.
Why? Who knows for sure, but two partial guesses:
1) Harbaugh wants a mega-contract extension from Jed York, and it never hurts to sound gracious heading into it.
2) After three very successful -- but non-title-winning -- seasons, Harbaugh is feeling more comfortable with his role as the team spokesman and maybe is realizing that this is a pretty good job to have ... and to keep for a while longer.
That doesn't mean Harbaugh will get a new deal or stay with the 49ers for 10 more years. But I definitely sensed some Harbaugh emotional re-calibrations at the end of this season, and this soliloquy was part of it.
"Something that has stood out in my mind is just how good it's been to work with all of you, weekly, monthly, during an entire season.
"And I hope you don't take this the wrong way, not professionally ... I want to compliment you on just the way you've all handled the news and your accuracy, your professionalism.
"You've reported it. And I know you don't take sides or choose up sides. I know you're very eager to be neutral. But I've felt that you've done it in a very professional way.
"There wasn't a time you tried to divide the team. There was no malice in the way our media handled the season."
He makes things endlessly interesting, he doesn't try to trick anybody into thinking he's everybody's best friend, and he never expects (or wants) bootlicking in return.
Both are stubborn, they do argue, and this relationship is probably not destined to last forever.
But maybe in the last few weeks Baalke and Harbaugh started to look at each other and think: Can I really get a better football partner than him?
Same now as in April 2011, when Yu came on as team president and minority owner:
York is the owner-CEO, Paraag Marathe (just promoted from COO to president) is his trusted lieutenant, and Baalke and Harbaugh run the football side.
With one major difference between then and now: There's a gleaming new Santa Clara stadium set to open in a few months.
The 49ers finally got themselves into the big-stadium/big-revenue game, and Yu is one of the main reasons it happened at all.
Now that the stadium is all but finished, Yu departs (he'll remain a minority owner), and York and Marathe are back together at the top of the hierarchy.
Marathe will run the business side -- and continue to oversee the salary-cap management and contract negotiations -- and Baalke will continue to run the football side.
But I also believe that York in many ways will operate as a CEO/president on the biggest issues.
York wisely turned to Yu to figure out how to get that stadium built; now that it has been funded and is almost complete, this is wholly York's show now.
Would you take Sherman on your team, right now, acting however he wants to?
If you say no, you're not being honest, or you don't know what wins NFL games.
And you'd be disagreeing with every coach, player and executive in the NFL.