CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship game in his first year. They made it to the Super Bowl in Jim Harbaugh’s second season.
This time, only a Super Bowl title will keep Harbaugh’s coaching career on the steady ascent he has enjoyed from the University of San Diego to Stanford to the NFL.
And with that setup, we open the 49ers Mailbag on the eve of the 49ers’ divisional-round playoff game against the Carolina Panthers:
If Jim Harbaugh doesn't win this game that makes him just above .500 in the playoffs. Will that hurt his chances of a big contract extension? (@MattTheBat1986)
I don’t expect the 49ers to pay Jim Harbaugh like a Super Bowl-winning coach if he has not won a Super Bowl.
But the 49ers would likely be willing to structure a two- or three-year contract extension in which incentives would place him high on the list if the 49ers were to win a Super Bowl.
The 49ers’ offer last offseason was not what Harbaugh desired. And it’s doubtful the 49ers’ offer would increase or Harbaugh’s asking price would drop if the 49ers fail to get to the NFC Championship game.
Last offseason, the 49ers allowed Harbaugh to seek more endorsement money from team sponsors, such as Visa. One source estimated Harbaugh made around a $1 million in endorsements, in addition to his $5 million annual salary.
By the way, both Harbaugh and 49ers CEO Jed York have publicly stated they want to work out an extension in the offseason. Harbaugh would gain leverage and could seemingly name his price with a Super Bowl.
Harbaugh may have felt a lot of pressure to win that first-round playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, and that would explain why he was as happy as I’ve ever seen him.
Why is the offense still burning too many timeouts in 1st/3rd quarters? (@scl127)
Colin Kaepernick has a long checklist of things to get accomplished before each play. He might hear two or three plays from Harbaugh. Then, he has to communicate that to his teammates in the huddle. Then, he has to get to the line of scrimmage and make a decision which play to run based on what he sees from the defense. That takes time.
“It’s not something you want to do, but sometimes it’s necessary,” Kaepernick said. “You want to have things right. You don’t want to blow a play.”
I wrote more about the 49ers' philosophy on these timeouts a few weeks ago when Kaepernick sat down with the beat reporters to go a little deeper than he does during his regular Wednesday press conference.
On Sunday in Green Bay, the 49ers had to burn one timeout at the beginning of the third quarter when Kaepernick had a brain cramp and failed to put on his wristband that contains the codes for the plays.
Said Harbaugh, “I’d give us an ‘A’ for our overall handling of the situation, the noise, the environment and winning the game. I won’t call it a 100 percent, but somewhere in the 90s, on the A-grading scale. What would that be 91-97? I wouldn’t give us an A-plus.”
Assuming Steve Smith is slower running routes, who do the Niners use to cover him? (@49erindaUP)
The 49ers cornerbacks do not shadow wide receivers. If Smith goes to the right side of the Panthers’ offensive formation, he’ll go against Tramaine Brock. If he goes to the left side, he’ll be up against Tarell Brown. The only thing you can predict is when the Panthers put three wides on the field. The slot receiver will be matched against Perrish Cox. The Panthers’ main slot receiver is Brandon LaFell. Starting cornerback Carlos Rogers, who plays the slot receiver, is not expected to play due to a hamstring strain.
[RELATED: Rogers not expected to play]
Do you think Greg Roman's interview with Vikings today be a distraction for tomorrow's game plan? (@Maxaria)
Roman and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula are scheduled to interview Saturday with the Minnesota Vikings.
The 49ers' game plan against the Panthers has been implemented. And the 49ers will have already held their final practice -- a brief walk-through in Charlotte. So I really don’t know if it’s any kind of distraction.
[RELATED: 49ers' final practice: Strictly ballroom]
But there’s no denying it takes some time for both Roman and Tomsula. After all, they can’t go into a job interview cold. Both will have devoted some time to studying the Vikings’ personnel and knowing the right questions to ask during their time in that meeting.
It’s kind of a bizarre why the NFL allows coaches of playoff teams still alive to interview this week. Of course, there are no restrictions once the 49ers’ season is over. If the 49ers advance to the Super Bowl, both men are allowed to conduct second interviews during the dead week.
In-line image of Steve Smith courtesy USATSI