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Egos This Big Must Be Registered As Lethal Weapons

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Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.


What do you get when you combine nuclear egos, millions of dollars and a fragile bit of success on the field? The San Francisco 49ers, who seem to be willing to go out of their way to completely screw up a good thing.

Three straight NFC Championship games and a team that looks poised to compete both now and in the future. How could this organization possibly fall off the rails? Because we're dealing with humans, that's why. Egos are the most destructive force on this planet short of nuclear weapons. Mostly because egos are what beget the launch of nuclear weapons.

So to sum up, the best coach the 49ers have had in over a decade is, apparently (though unsurprisingly) a monstrous pain in the ass.

Now it's someone's job to fix this. Yet the people who are employed to fix this won't, because they all have skin in the game. So instead of being comfortable with the knowledge that the franchise was running well, 49ers fans are wondering when things are going to explode. It doesn't help when people like John Madden weigh in and blow things up.

Money. Power. Ego.

There is precedent for this. Dallas in the early 1990s look scarily like this situation. But it was the same combination and it's a dangerous combination. The proportions may have been spread differently, but not dramatically so. What does this mean for the future? It means that this story has opened a wound in the 49ers organization and already, in this dead time of year, formed a narrative for the San Francisco future. It even has commentators choosing sides

For his part, Harbaugh has tried to put the genie back in the bottle. But there is blood in the water and anonymous sources are still out there.

It means that winning isn't enough. It means that the power struggle is an all-consuming battle with a subtext that surrounds every decision and will infect every single day of the San Fran season in 2014.

It shouldn't be this way. For an organization that had been out of the winning business for a while in the prior decade, the recent success should be enough of an incentive for everyone to play nice. Is Harbaugh that much of a misery to deal with? There are unpleasant people in every business. More often than not, there is little incentive to deal with them unless they are terrific at their jobs. Harbaugh, for all of his supposed quirks, wins football games. Period. In a bottom line business, where people are fired routinely that have reputations as professional and pleasant, he knows the bottom line.

He wins.

How big has he won? Jim Harbaugh is in the conversation as a better coach than one Bill Walsh. Disliking people who act like jerks is natural. Many of us have dealt with someone at work who we cannot stand. But when you run a business that's worth several billion dollars, and it's performing well, you live with it. If it declines, then relish the chance to fire the object of your scorn. But if you decide to change a formula that is working, then you're the one to blame for the fall the follows.

The 0.00001% own these teams, but they're not immune from scorn. It's time for ownership and management to swallow their egos and stop complaining. They haven't done much winning, without the lunatic they put in charge.