By: Jeff Riger

It actually makes me mad.

I think about it way too much.

It would have made perfect sense.

These are the thoughts that stick with me as I continue to follow the Jim Harbaugh situation in San Francisco.

I’m not sure I’ll ever forget where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the report that the Browns almost had Harbaugh. I was putting up a backsplash in my kitchen and listening to our station when news of the possible trade broke. The fact that Cleveland almost had Harbaugh as their new head coach amazed me and made me jealous at the same time.

Obviously, Harbaugh decided not to go to the Browns, which was a great choice, but it does seem, per media reports, like he’ll be headed somewhere other than the Bay Area very soon.

Why not the Lions?

If the Browns knew Harbaugh was available, Detroit must have known as well, right? Was a call made? Was something officially offered? What would it actually have taken to land the former Wolverine QB? These are the questions that I would love to know the answer to.

It’s a no-brainer, if Harbaugh was available, I think Detroit should have gotten him. It’s that simple. Whatever the cost, for me, it would have been worth it. The Bucs gave two first rounders, two second rounders and $8 million to the Raiders to acquire John Gruden back in 2002. Oakland was going to lose Gruden one way or the other so they made the best of the situation. It worked out for Tampa, they won a Super Bowl and I can’t help but to think that it would have worked for Detroit too.

It seems like only a matter of time to many NFL watchers before Harbaugh leaves the 49ers. Rumors have it he doesn’t talk to the front office, he seems like a real jerk to deal with and reports say he’s about as egotistical as it gets… Those would have been the perfect qualities for the next Lions head coach.

Nothing against Jim Caldwell, but I think Harbaugh would have been a slam dunk. There are about four or five coaches in the game who truly can make a difference and the rest are the same guy in a different body. Harbaugh is one of those difference makers, worth whatever the Niners are asking for. You know his resume as well as I do: From Stanford to three consecutive NFC Championship games, Harbaugh has that knack for not only turning around programs and franchises but then keeping them playing at a high level as well.

People question why the 49ers would allow Harbaugh to leave, but it seems simple to me: He sounds like a pain to deal with. San Fran might believe the team is now in position where any coach can run it. Harbaugh did the heavy lifting; fixed the issues and now the Niners might not want to deal with the headache that he causes. The 49ers might also feel that there is no chance they’ll be able to resign Harbaugh — so why not get a lot in return for a trade rather than him just walking away after the 2015 season?

I don’t know the real story there, I’m not sure many do. But his issues, as bad as they might be, produce wins and if he were to do the same here, his baggage would be totally worth it.

Here’s what I would like to see happen.

I would offer a Tampa-type package of picks and money to the Niners for Harbaugh and bring in the best available coach in the game. People continue to debate how the Lions first round pick should be used. Will they draft a corner, receiver or even a linebacker? How about getting a great coach out of it instead? Detroit should even offer personal power, if that’s what it would take. We could thank Martin Mayhew and Caldwell for their service and start winning regularly with Harbaugh.

Of course we all know this is just a fantasy. The Lions will not trade for Harbaugh, instead the Dolphins or some other team probably will, and we here in Detroit will have missed out on yet another golden opportunity. Sigh.

Oh what else could happen?

Hey, wait a minute.

If the Lions won’t deal for Harbaugh, could Michigan pick up the phone and welcome their former player back to Ann Arbor? It could be the perfect time, with the feds investigating the school’s handling of the Brendan Gibbons case, to make a change and bring in a coach all the Big Ten would fear. Rumor has it Harbaugh even wears a headset.

Unfortunately, just like the Lions, I don’t think David Brandon would ever do that.

Man, just thinking about all these options makes me mad!

What about you? Are you miffed Michigan and the Lions are missing out on Harbaugh?


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