City Sports Report

The time was right for Jim Harbaugh to move on

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The San Francisco 49ers have mutually agreed with Jim Harbaugh to part ways, officially ending his tenure as the team’s head coach.

The news came down shortly after the 49ers season-ending victory over Arizona. Team CEO Jed York confirmed that Harbaugh, after four years in San Francisco, will be moving on.

“Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions, … 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.”

The 49ers went 44-19 in four years under Harbaugh. His first three seasons in San Francisco produced three straight appearances in the NFC Championship game, reaching Super Bowl XLVII, where they were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens. Harbaugh would eventually replace incumbent Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick, in route to the team’s Super Bowl appearance. However by the time this season arrived it was clear that Harbaugh’s intense coaching style, along with his reported clashes with the team’s upper management, appeared to have taken it’s toll on both sides. The 49ers started out 7-4 this season, however they struggled down the stretch, and would lose four of it’s final five games.

Harbaugh’s departure from the 49ers had been rumored for the past few months, what was beginning to become clearer as this season unfolded, was just a matter of when and how the split would happen. However, as it turns out, there wasn’t a firing announced, instead it was two sides deciding to walk away — no strings attached, thanks for the memories.

While it’s true Harbaugh restored the winning culture in San Francisco, in my opinion, his falling short of delivering a Super Bowl title shouldn’t be ignored. Winning has a way of masking what’s going on behind the scenes, or in this case, off the field. San Francisco enjoyed a three-year run of limited success, getting to the brink of winning the whole thing, however they were unable to close the deal. It would’ve been interesting to see how both sides would have approached things this year, had there been at least one Super Bowl trophy produced.

It’s logical for Harbaugh to pick now as the time to move on. It also falls in line, strategically, with how he’s gone about his progression as a head coach. Harbaugh’s name on the market will have teams in need of a head coach doing what they can to position themselves for a seat at his table. From his time in the college ranks, with successful stints at San Diego State and Stanford, to making the jump to the NFL with the 49ers, Harbaugh has shown to be adept at knowing when to make his next move. This time is no different.

Rumors are hot that Michigan, Harbaugh’s alma mater, has targeted him as the top choice for their vacant head coaching position. There should also be a handful of potential head coach openings around the league to consider. The competitive nature of Harbaugh leads me to believe he’d want to stay in the NFL to pursue a Super Bowl championship, however if Michigan really wants him, most likely they’re going to back up the Brinks truck to get him.

Harbaugh’s run in San Francisco, while intense, was successful. However, it’s also a reminder of two realities in professional sports, all good things eventually come to an end and timing is everything.

One Comment

  1. Derrick Branch

    December 30, 2014 at 3:48 am

    If the Debartlo Family was still running the team this would have not happened. Just because they have a team loaded with talent does not mean that the next guy will come in and be successful as Harbaugh was. Remember Mike Singletary?

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