Morning Links:

Steve O Speak

49ers Get Their Man: While it took a while and was starting to turn into a real media circus, the 49ers ended up with their man and new head coach, Jim Harbaugh. They didn’t need to make him the highest paid coach to land him, though are still paying him a healthy $5 million a year for 5 years. Harbaugh is a good fit for San Francisco as he had a lot of success with Stanford without having all the necessary talent. He seems to be able to motivate his players and get the most out of them, something that hasn’t happened in San Francisco. The 49ers are also a great fit for Harbaugh as they really don’t need to be rebuilt from the ground up. San Francisco has some very talented offensive players like Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis, as well as a young offensive line with a lot of upside. They lack a quarterback and some depth along the line, but otherwise they are in a much better position than a number of teams. Defensively they have a lot of talent as well, and only really need some secondary help (and maybe need to replace a free agent or two) and they are set. Not only are the 49ers a good fit because of their talent level, but they play in the AFC West a division that was won this season with a 7-9 record. San Francisco could easily be a playoff team next year with some better luck and minor improvements.

Dolphins Extend Tony Sparano: Huh?? This move is a major head scratcher as they had been prepared all week to fire Sparano if they could reach an agreement with Harbaugh (or presumably Cowher or Gruden as well according to some rumors). While it is awkward to even bring back Sparano at that point it is down right ridiculous to extend him. I understand part of it is to ensure his feelings aren’t hurt, but if he wasn’t content with having a head coaching job (fairly certain the rest of the league wouldn’t be lining up at his doorstep) then just fire him. Sparano had just the one year left on his contract which meant that if he couldn’t turn the Dolphins around next year, he could be let go without owing him anything. Now if he doesn’t turn anything around and is fired the Dolphins will have wasted millions of dollars. In addition to the money wasted it raises some serious questions about the organization and the direction they are going in.

Nets Near A Three-Way Deal To Land Carmelo Anthony?: While their is a strong mutual interest between the Nets and Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony, it is looking more and more like they need to get a third team involved. The Pistons appear to be one of the top choices, and are willing to move Rip Hamilton in the deal, but don’t want some of the other pieces involved in the deal. The Nets would have to part with rookie Derrick Favors as well as PG Devin Harris (and multiple first round picks), but would be looking to get back Anthony, Hamilton and Chauncey Billups. The deal is also contingent on Anthony agreeing to an extension with the Nets something he hasn’t been willing to acknowledge, though he might change his mind if they acquire Billups and Hamilton as well. This deal is far from done, but it could shake up the playoff picture and power structure.

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