Coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Andrew Luck are Stanford’s dynamic duo, but neither one will be there much longer.
But sorry, 49ers fans: Neither one is likely to show up at Candlestick Park, either.
Harbaugh has a year left on his Stanford contract, but that wouldn’t stop him from leaving for a pro job after this season.
Remembering that Bill Walsh left Stanford and turned the 49ers into a dynasty team, fans have hoped for a repeat by the current Stanford coach.
But aside from the family connection — current team president Jed York is the nephew of Eddie De Bartolo, who hired Walsh — there’s little similarity between the two situations.
Eddie was desperate because Joe Thomas had devastated the team, trading off good players and what turned out to be the No. 1 draft pick in 1979, while alienating the community. He didn’t want to run the team, so he gave total control to Walsh.
The current 49ers are a bad team, but not the worst in the NFL, and Jed wants to continue as the president — with a front office virtually bereft of NFL experience. A coach would have to be either suicidal or desperate to come to the 49ers.
Harbaugh is neither.
He’s certainly not a Stanford lifer because the school won’t pay the going rate for top college coaches. But he seems likely to stay in the college ranks because he’s the prototype of a successful college head coach — a handsome coach with an outgoing personality that makes him a good recruiter.
So, after the 2011 season, he’ll go to another college. Despite the speculation, it’s unlikely that he’ll go back to his alma mater, Michigan. Shortly after he was hired by Stanford, I wrote a San Francisco Examiner column that quoted Harbaugh extensively on how Michigan kept athletes in school with courses that did not advance their education. The next time we talked, he told me he was persona non grata at Michigan. That didn’t bother him. He wanted that story out.
Luck’s situation is also complicated. He’s played only two years, but is an academic junior. In a normal year, he might be the No. 1 pick in the draft because he’s a great quarterback who’s been playing in an NFL system. The 49ers won’t be bad enough to have that first pick.
But this is not a normal year. The collective bargaining agreement between owners and the NFL Players Association runs out in March and it’s unlikely to be renewed before the draft, normally in April. There are some wide divisions in negotiations. Owners want players to take a much smaller portion of total revenues, so they can finance new stadiums. Players want big concessions if the league goes to an 18-game schedule.
It’s quite possible there will be no final settlement until just before the season starts, in which case, the draft could be thrown into flux.
So, it’s the worst of worlds for 49ers fans: a dismal season with little hope for revival.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.