The 49ers haven’t been able to replicate the success they had when Jim Harbaugh was the coach, and owner Jed York wouldn’t go so far as to say he regretted letting Harbaugh go, but he did hope for a better relationship in the future.
York told TheMMQB.com’s Peter King on his podcast that Ravens coach John Harbaugh broached the topic with him at the recent owners meeting in Arizona, saying the two should get dinner and clear the air.
“I said, ‘I’d love to do that.’ I’d love to get together,” York said. “And I think enough time has kind of passed where you can let whatever issues were there be buried and just truly be thankful for three great years when nobody expected us, certainly in 2011, to beat the Saints the way we did, to get close and, you know, be two muffed punts away from going to a Super Bowl in ‘11.
“And Just all the things that happened, and I’d love to sit down with Jim. Not in front of cameras, not in front of anybody else, but just share an evening with him and truly say ‘Thank you,’ and wish him the best of luck. Not obviously when he plays Notre Dame, but for the rest of the season, wish him the best of luck.”
Of course, York is a wealthy man. If he really wanted to dine with his former coach, he could easily go to Ann Arbor and do so. And he could have hashed this out away from cameras, and he wouldn’t have had to talk about it, either.
But he hasn’t, and it’s reasonable to wonder if he ever will, or whether it’s just the kind of thing you say to someone to make it seem you’re magnanimous, after making such a mess of the “mutual parting” and the seasons that followed.
“I don’t know if ‘regret’ is the right word,” York said. “We had a lot of success together. We tried several times to get an extension done with Jim and, for whatever reason, those didn’t culminate. And ultimately, as successful as it was here, I think Jim is very happy and he’s doing an unbelievable job at Michigan.
“We obviously didn’t have success after Jim left. I don’t know that we’d be sitting here with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan if something happened. And I don’t know that it would have worked in the long-term if we did get something done. I regret how we performed the last two years. I regret that the relationship was frayed between me and a coach that, you know, did a lot of great things for this franchise.”
Again, York has the ability to make this happen, if he wants to. Just as he had the ability to put personality issues aside, and hang onto the franchise’s most successful coach in decades.