Seahawks fans breathed a deep sigh of relief last week when rumored holdout Marshawn Lynch showed up to his team’s involuntary offseason minicamp. He didn’t actually participate in the practices (putatively due to an injured foot or some such excuse), so his contract situation is far from resolved going into the 2014 season, but his appearance gave Seattle good reason to feel optimistic about his future with the team.
Down by the Bay, by contrast, it might be time to get nervous. The absences of Vernon Davis and Alex Boone are drawing the headlines — especially after Head Coach Jim Harbaugh “stepped in it” by excoriating them to the press — but were I a fan of the Niners, I’d expend most of my worrying on the man who’s supposed to be running the show.
Jim Harbaugh has been rumored unhappy with his contract in San Francisco. He reportedly wants to be paid like a Super Bowl-winning coach (i.e. Pete Carroll). Fortunately, he has not yet won the Super Bowl, and management is more interested in paying him a salary commensurate to his meager achievements. Earlier in the offseason, the team discussed trading Harbaugh’s contract to Cleveland, and reports leaked on June 8 that negotiations between the two parties had stalled.
Just three days later, Coach Harbaugh appeared in an advertisement for Dockers that featured an extended appearance slash narration by Mrs. Harbaugh:
The ad is admittedly cute, and was roundly praised by 49ers fans everywhere. Niners Nation captioned it “Sarah & Jim Harbaugh’s Dockers commercial is the best you’ll see today (and maybe all offseason [sic]”. The comments on the article were similarly positive in tone.
But after watching the commercial a time or two through, I couldn’t help but notice something rather peculiar — more accurately, I noticed something I didn’t notice: any mention of the team for which Harbaugh works. Here are some highlights:
Hi. I’m Sarah Harbaugh, wife of professional football coach and former star quarterback Jim Harbaugh.
Here’s what appeared on the screen as she said those words:
Notice anything missing? [Hint: look at his hat.]
Coming up with an image of Coach Jim in a plain black hat must have taken a heroic effort, given what happens when you search “Jim Harbaugh” on Google Images (or maybe just some skilled Photoshop):
My handsome, vibrant, successful, football coach of a husband suddenly looked like he’d hung the curtains from his belt.
The matching image? You guessed it — more conspicuous absence of red and gold slash serious effort on Photoshop:
Help us rid the world of dad pants and you could win a trip to one of Jim’s games.
“One of Jim’s games?” This was an obvious (red and) golden opportunity — Dockers is part of Levi’s. and the 49ers intend to occupy Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for the first time this coming season — and still, the ad refused to name-drop the team.
Admittedly, the actual promotional website is a drop more forthcoming about the prize for participation:
But even that says only that participants could “win a trip for two to San Francisco” and nothing about whether said trip includes an expedition out to Santa Clara.
And it’s not as though mentioning specific teams or featuring their logos is against company, NFL, or Jim Harbaugh policy.
To wit, here’s Russell Wilson, also doing an ad for Levi’s, and unafraid to mention that he plays for Seattle or throw around a Seahawks football:
Here’s Harbaugh-favorite Richard Sherman in a promotional spot for Campbell’s Soup — even his mother is decked out in her NFL finest:
And Harbaugh himself has certainly never been shy about appearing in commercial advertisements in the black, red, and gold:
All of which leads me to the inescapable conclusion that Jim Harbaugh is still not entirely sure whether he’ll be back in San Francisco next season.
Then again, maybe Coach Harbaugh’s just playing hardball with the 9ers. Which would be weird because that’s an entirely different sport from football (see, e.g. here).