After resurrecting the San Francisco 49ers and taking the team to three NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance in four years, the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco is over.
The 49ers and Harbaugh “mutually agreed to part ways” the team announced Sunday after the team’s 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Niners ended the season 8-8 and out of the playoffs, the only year since Harbaugh was hired in 2011 that the team failed to reach the postseason. Harbaugh leaves the Niners with a career record of 44-19-1, along with a 5-3 record in the postseason.
“Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions,” said 49ers CEO Jed York in a release. “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.”
But this was hardly a surprising result, with the Niners and Harbaugh heading for divorce all year as the coach clashed with general manager Trent Baalke and rumors swirled that he was losing support within the locker room.
The team looked into trading Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns last spring, and San Francisco did not sign Harbaugh to a contract extension before the 2014 season. Perhaps only a Super Bowl title this year could have prolonged Harbaugh’s time in Santa Clara.
Instead, the 49ers spent the season shrouded in controversy, both on and off the field.
The offseason started with the Browns trade story, and it included the hold outs of two prominent players, tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone; a sexual assault investigation into quarterback Colin Kaepernick, from which he was ultimately cleared; and a guilty plea by star pass rusher Aldon Smith on drunken driving and weapons charges that resulted in a nine-game suspension.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Lindsay H. Jones