The NFL scouting combine is wrapping up and, yes, Jim Harbaugh will still very much be the 49ers coach when the last stopwatch clicks and interview winds down.

Somehow, Harbaugh has endured the past few days without getting traded or fired or demanding that anybody else get traded or fired.

Somehow, despite credible reports suggesting great storms of intrigue around him, Harbaugh will go back to 49ers headquarters, and he and general manager Trent Baalke will get back to running this team together.

For at least one more clenched season. I think.

Are the G.M. and coach best pals as they were in 2011? Of course not, which has caused much speculation and certainly ramped up the tension at 4949 Centennial these days.

ProFootballTalk.com reported that a deal was in place to send 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns.
ProFootballTalk.com reported that a deal was in place to send 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns. (TOM PENNINGTON/Getty Images)

But the 49ers didn't want to trade Harbaugh recently; and Harbaugh didn't want to jump to Cleveland or anywhere else, at least not right now.

(Whether any serious offline conversations took place and that led to the blockbuster ProFootballTalk report, we may never know.)

Both sides are better off in the strained status quo for the time being.

Of course, none of the larger 49ers truths are new at all, as Harbaugh and CEO Jed York move toward critical contract-extension talks.

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.


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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 long as Harbaugh agitates, there will be crises brewing and other teams beckoning for his services.

Harbaugh and his agent David Dunn never mind any of that, nor should they, especially if it puts pressure on York to pay Harbaugh the top coaching salary in the NFL.

Yes, there are a lot of things going on here.

Harbaugh and Baalke have had a little cold war for quite some time, and they've worked through a lot of it already, at least for the short term.

I'm told the two men shared thoughts during the combine as they have for the last year -- not as BFFs but as measured work partners, both fiercely determined to win a Super Bowl.

There are probably too many past disagreements to fully repair the relationship, I think: Maybe Jim now wants to win to spite Trent, and Trent wants to win to spite Jim, but oh well.

Either way works for the rest of the franchise, as long as a balance can be maintained.

I'm told that even at their worst, things have never gotten too close to a blowup and that York and Harbaugh continue to have a solid relationship.

So now it comes down to how the 49ers manage through it, and that's mostly up to York.

If things get totally out of hand, I have little doubt that York would lean to Baalke over Harbaugh, though I know it drives many 49ers fans crazy to hear that.

But there are solid reasons for this.

First and most important, Harbaugh has never stayed in any coaching job longer than four years. He's entering his fourth with the 49ers, so it would seem odd to bank everything on him for what remains of his tenure.

Baalke is the more stable personality, and he's the one York has already signed through 2016 -- one year longer than Harbaugh's current deal.

Second, accruing talent wisely is the most important aspect of the NFL in the salary cap era, and though Baalke has had his share of misses, he has also brought in NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Eric Reid, Mike Iupati and Anquan Boldin, among others.

You can't compete with Seattle and Baltimore if you don't have that same level of talent, no matter who's doing the coaching.

But the 49ers have the talent, and they need Harbaugh into the short-term future.

And Harbaugh needs the 49ers for his continued best shot at a Super Bowl title.

Along the way, for as long as Harbaugh remains the coach, there will be storms and speculation, there will be every kind of tempest that Harbaugh's mere presence can summon.

The 49ers knew some of that when they hired him, and it has absolutely been worth it so far.

Now they know the full extent of it, and I believe it will be worth it to them ... for at least one more rowdy season.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.

Inside

49ers' York now says Browns
did inquire about trading for Harbaugh. PAGE 5