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Padecky: Jim Harbaugh in offseason form at SRJC fundraiser

  • 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh shares a laugh with Windsor resident Ed Sowash after learning that Sowash was a coach with the USC football program while Harbaugh was coaching Stanford. The event was a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Santa Rosa and the SRJC football program. (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

The minimum opening bid Saturday night for the Jim Harbaugh autographed football started at $500. It was an SRJC football fundraiser. And a few tables from the stage of the Friedman Center sat Matt Keegan, irritated.

Just moments before, a football autographed by the entire Seattle Seahawks team went to bid. The announcement was met with boos. The Seahawks beat the 49ers in the NFC title game in January. Harbaugh didn't boo, although most certainly his inner Screaming Warrior wanted to buy it for a dollar and place it in front of oncoming bus.

“I was prepared to spend five grand for that football,” said Santa Rosa's Keegan, a commodities trader. “Then I would have asked Jim to step outside with me to the courtyard. I would have poured lighting fluid over it and set it afire. That's what I wanted to do.”

But the football was in transit. It wasn't on-site. So Keegan kept his right arm on his table. Nothing to burn. Nothing to film. Yes, he admitted, he had visions of YouTube dancing in his head. It would be an Internet sensation, he thought, and the Seahawk-49ers rivalry — as if it needed any help — would spike a bit more. As it was, the Seahawk pigskin went for a paltry $400.

Now the Harbaugh football opened to bid. The $500 opener quickly climbed. It met $1,000 quickly. “Wait!” Harbaugh shouted. He removed something resembling a black sweatshirt, walked near the stage and tossed it to the auctioneer. Add this, Harbaugh said. The crowd of about 700 went nuts.

This is the first time they have seen the man toss something at someone with a smile on his face.

Keegan won it with a $3,000 bid, having just bested an offer of $2,500. The bid apparently was over. Wait, Harbaugh said. Keep it at $2,500. I'll give personalized autographed footballs and sweatshirts to both bidders. The crowd went nuts again. Jim Harbaugh was acting like, well, just a guy, a guy with a sense of humor, the guy next door, albeit the guy next door who has an NFL franchise in his hand.

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