Photo source: Forbes
Recently, the San Francisco 49ers released their coach, Jim Harbaugh, from his last year of his five year $25 million contract with the team. Eight straight years before signing Harbaugh on as coach, the 49ers hadn’t claimed any victorious seasons. Joining the team in 2011, he led the 49ers to three consecutive NFC championships, including an appearance at Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.
Talks began about the separation of Harbaugh from the 49ers before this last season. The problem was not whether or not Harbaugh won games, but rather the troubles with his personality. “From a human standpoint, there are times when it can wear you out,” said Ky Snyder, athletic director at USD, one of Harbaugh’s previous teams. “But the pieces of his personality that tire you out are the same ones that make him so successful.” One “piece of his personality” is the constant desire to seek improvement, even when this improvement requires resources that the specific team he works for is unable to provide. A prominent 49ers office member was heard saying that “[Harbaugh] is never happy.” While this quest for perfection would and did benefit the teams that he worked for, it weighed on the owners and the players as Harbaugh created a hostile work environment.
Relations between Harbaugh and the owner Jed York, as well as his general manager, Trent Baalke, were supposedly rocky, as Harbaugh continuously desired more money while York believed that a coach who hadn’t won a Super Bowl shouldn’t be paid like one who has. This relationship grew even more tenuous during this disastrous last season as the 49ers lost 8 games and won 8 games.
On December 28, 2014, Harbaugh and the team mutually decided to part ways. Michigan offered him a 6-year $48 million contract and he accepted. Jim Tomsula has recently been promoted to head coach of the 49ers. He had served as the defensive line coach since February 2007.
While it is unclear whether this decision to fire Harbaugh is the right one, Teya B. (’16) warns that firing a coach who has won many games for the team and brought the 49ers to the Super Bowl, is a risky move. Paul C. (’15) also commented on the firing of Harbaugh and what lies in the team’s future. He states, “This season has been rough for all the players and fans of the 49ers. If getting rid of Harbaugh will lead to victory, then I think that, as of right now, it is the 49ers’ only option.” Will this be a new victorious era for the San Francisco 49ers? We will just have to wait and see.