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Niners not inclined to 'beg' Jim Harbaugh to stay

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ownership from the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers are on the record regarding Cleveland's failed pursuit of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

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As the dust settles on the story, we are left to ask: Can Harbaugh and the 49ers make this marriage last?

NFL Media columnist Michael Silver provided some fascinating context Monday. The big takeaway: 49ers brass is prepared to play hardball with Harbaugh. Silver writes that he's convinced the team wouldn't have stopped Harbaugh if he truly wanted to leave.

"As much as (Jed) York and his top executives value Harbaugh and appreciate the swift and sublime success he has enjoyed since arriving in 2011, a stretch that has included three consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances and a near-miss Super Bowl defeat, they are not inclined to beg him to stick around, either through words or emphatic financial gestures of support," Silver writes.

The 49ers have seen Harbaugh publicly tied to a few other jobs. (NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that USC, in addition to the University Texas, showed interest in Harbaugh.) The 49ers don't plan to panic after seeing the reports.

"We didn't do that when we hired him in the first place, either. Why would we run scared?" one top 49ers official told Silver. (That's in reference to San Francisco's refusal to raise Harbaugh's offer after the Miami Dolphins made a run to hire him.)

Success often brings disagreements over who should get the credit. At its core, this conflict seems to be about how valuable Harbaugh truly is. The 49ers believe, according to Silver, that Harbaugh isn't the only coach that could win with this roster.

"Simply put, the Niners' brass believes that general manager Trent Baalke has assembled a talented team and is likely to continue making smart roster decisions -- and that Harbaugh is hardly the only person who could coach this team to a championship," Silver writes.

That assessment is up for debate. And we have a good idea where Harbaugh would stand on the issue.

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