SANTA CLARA — Jerry Rice may think Jim Harbaugh is gone after this season as 49ers coach, but Rice’s former quarterback Joe Montana isn’t so sure.
“Just to let it fall apart over a year, I’m not sure he’d want to do that,” Montana said Wednesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Montana believes Harbaugh would be wise to return, as long as he can coexist with the front office.
“Whether Jim moves on for another reason, I don’t know. If there is something going on, I would say he wouldn’t be back, that would be my guess,” Montana said.
“But if there isn’t, I don’t see any reason why. He’s got a great nucleus there. I’m not sure why you would want to leave a team like that, with as much talent that’s on there. I’m sure there are places he’d like to fill in. But it’s hard to leave a team you’ve coached for so long, you know well, you’ve got guys getting into position you’d want them to be.”
Harbaugh is in the fourth season of a five-year, $25 million contract he signed upon leaving Stanford. The 49ers’ 4-4 record is their worst at a season’s midway point under Harbaugh, who Rice said Tuesday is unlikely to return as coach.
Montana echoed other alumni’s concerns over how the 49ers seem to lack an identity, adding that they need to spring Kaepernick out of the pocket more often to utilize his play-making skills.
Montana also reflected on his 49ers playing days and the transition from Bill Walsh to George Seifert after the 1988 season’s Super Bowl triumph.
Said Montana: “You know how those things go: something happens, and then, bang, somebody’s gone, and sometimes not even for a good reason. I think everybody expected Bill Walsh to come back and not to retire.”
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