OAKLAND - Jim Harbaugh's coaching future with the San Francisco 49ers has been the topic of so many rumors for the past month, so the noise only intensified following the Niners' 24-13 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Harbaugh was asked after the game if he thought CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke want him to continue to be the coach of the team.
"My priorities are: No. 1, winning football games," Harbaugh said. "No. 2, the welfare of our players, coaches and our staff. And lastly, is what my personal/professional future is."
Then has Harbaugh been able to maintain focus throughout the maelstrom?
"Yes," he said.
Does Harbaugh, then, want to return to Santa Clara next season?
"My priorities," he said, "are winning games."
The 49ers are riding their third two-game losing streak of the season after having just a pair of such streaks in Harbaugh's first three seasons. They have never lost three straight under Harbaugh and travel to Seattle next week.
Speculation swirled this week that the Raiders are making a run at Harbaugh, whose NFL coaching career began in Oakland in 2002, and Harbaugh made sure to seek out Raiders owner Mark Davis on the sidelines to press the flesh before the game.
"I told him, 'You stole our dysfunction,' " Davis told the San Jose Mercury News. "That's supposed to be our thing."
Of course, Harbaugh paying his respects could be interpreted as him just being courteous. But there is a certain segment of Raiders fans that envision Harbaugh toting his khakis and sweatshirt up from Santa Clara. And that would involve the Niners trading him to the Raiders (not likely with the team wanting to keep its draft picks and Harbaugh having to agree to join a team short said draft picks) or being fired (more likely, which would probably mean another Jim running the Niners' ship, as in Jim Tomsula).
"No one outside of this locker room is going to change this team's mindset," said 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Whether the same holds true for the Niners' front office is another matter entirely, however.