The San Francisco 49ers returned to the NFC Championship game and posted a 44-19-1 record under Jim Harbaugh. On Sunday he was fired.
Ok maybe not fired – the 49ers are calling it “a mutual agreement to part ways.” Sure. He was fired. Kicked out by a front office which opted to side with general manager Trent Baalke.
Sure Harbaugh’s personality may not be the most flowery but in a sport where results matter the former quarterback produced them. In a down year in which Colin Kaepernick regressed Baalke saw the chance to eliminate Harbaugh and jumped on it there is no way to see it otherwise.
“Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions,” said CEO Jed York. “We thank Jim for bringing a tremendous competitive nature and a great passion for the game to the 49ers. He and his staff restored a winning culture that has been the standard for our franchise throughout its history. Their commitment and hard work resulted in a period of success that should be looked back on proudly by our organization and our fans. We wish Jim and his family all the best.”
“For the last four seasons I have had the great privilege to coach one of the storied franchises in the history of football,” said Harbaugh. “We accomplished many great things together as a team during this period, which is a tribute to the incredible efforts of some of the most dedicated players and coaches in the NFL. I will miss competing alongside this group of players and coaches, I have the utmost respect and admiration for their hard work and support. It has been my honor to share the sideline with these mighty men. I will always appreciate and remember fondly, the passion and support of our Faithful fans, and want to express my particular thanks to them.”
As reports about Harbaugh’s exit circulated all season Harbaugh’s alma mater Michigan came calling giving the 49ers a way to try and save face.
Whomever the 49ers choose to replace Harbaugh with will be a downgrade. Harbaugh is expected to join Michigan sometime this week though the Raiders are said to be making a late push to land him. Whether or not Harbaugh views the Raiders as a viable landing spot remains to be seen but many have said his heart is in the NFL.