49ers have a decision to make about Harbaugh

Getty Images

As 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh wraps up the fourth season of a five-year deal, it’s becoming more and more clear that he won’t be back in 2015.  The goal for the current campaign was to set aside the looming divorce and to focus on getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it.

Now that the season has begun the process of slipping away with a home loss to a Seahawks team the 49ers will visit in 16 days, the 49ers soon will have to implement their plan for resolving their relationship with Harbaugh.

If the many (and largely unrefuted) reports of persistent dysfunction between Harbaugh and the front office are true, and if it’s now clear that the season has begun the process of disintegrating, the 49ers must decide whether to keep Harbaugh through the next four weeks and try to trade the final year of his contract — or to part ways now, elevate Jim Tomsula to head coach, and hope that the switch will spur the 49ers to run the table and earn a berth in the postseason.  The notion of firing Harbaugh with games left seems beyond ludicrous on the surface, but only those inside the organization know the full extent of the four-year tug-of-war that has created a strong sense in league circles that the front office looks forward to the day he exits the building for good.

The frustrations that have lingered while the team has thrived could quickly rush to the surface, now that the season is starting to go off the rails.  Even though the 49ers remain two games above .500, 7-5 isn’t good enough with the Eagles at 9-3, the Packers at 8-3, the Cowboys at 8-4, the Lions at 8-4, the Cardinals at 9-2, and the Seahawks at 8-4.

Including that 49ers, that’s seven total teams vying for five playoff berths that will go to the NFC teams not assigned to the South division.  Currently, the 49ers sit seventh of seven.

While it would be shocking for the 49ers to make a change, it’s impossible to rule out anything in the aftermath of the kind of outcome that proves to the 49ers and everyone else that this isn’t the team it had been in 2011, 2012, and 2013.  If Tomsula is going to be considered for the head-coaching job in 2015 (and multiple league insiders believe he’ll have the inside track to succeed Harbaugh), why not give him a chance to get his feet wet now?

The only reason to stay the course would be to obtain draft picks from the Raiders or whoever else would be interested in making a run at Harbaugh.  Only those inside the organization know whether it’s gotten so bad that they’d prefer to let Harbaugh walk away now than to tread through troubled waters for the next month.

60 responses to “49ers have a decision to make about Harbaugh

  1. Probably best for both parties to sever now.

    But gee, the Niners were so much more like able when DeBartolo owned them.

  2. Trade him while you still think there’s anyone left in the league who will put up with him. Steve Ross is probably foolish enough to give you a couple of picks for him.

  3. Surprised it took this long for that post to come out. Was written days ago I am sure, and the author could hardly wait for the SF loss so the post button could be hit.

    Media just loves to create stories, stir the pot, and, be the first to suggest a rumor that may or may not happen: “Since SF hasn’t rejected it, it must be true” is the supposed logic to start things off for why he may go. First, that rumor allows an ongoing storyline to update on slow news days…and then, the more times the rumor gets brought up, that rumor slowly gains steam and transforms magically into some sort of fact or inevitability.

    If it happens, and then they pat themselves on the back for being right, first and take some sort of credibility boost in the rumor mongering game, disguised as “journalism”.

    If they end up being wrong, it was because of “bad sources” and the reporter is just writing what they’d heard.


  4. I hope the 49ers remember their record in the period of time between Seifert and Harbaugh…it wasn’t pretty. While Harbaugh appears to be a pain in the ass, he is easily a top 10 coach in the NFL.

    if the 9ers don’t have a top 10 caliber coach identified and read to sign up, then they are destined for more of the mariachi, Erickson, Nolan, singletary type season…which are definite downgrades from what harbaugh produced…be careful what you wish for…

  5. Not so fast……This is a very good team with a quality coach…….I obviously don’t know what the issues are with the front office, but the fact remains that he has been extremely successful since arriving…….I wouldn’t make the suggested decision to move on and in fact would try to get an extension and lock him up for another stint.

    I am a Hawk Fan but respect the work he and the SF team has done over the past few years.

  6. After tonight, I’m definitely on the fence. At the very least Roman needs to move on. And if Harbaugh isn’t down with that, then I bid farewell.

  7. I don’t know what could possibly be the issue in the front office other than a bunch of chiefs everywhere making it difficult to focus strictly on the team. Jim praises Kaepernick, maybe cuz he’s such a great athlete, but he definitely needs to learn to relax in the pocket and throw with some finesse. not just rifling the ball at players every time. and what happened to the run option. did we just totally give up on that. personally I think we should use that at least 5 time a game and runs the ball himself. our offense just needs more options. we have great receivers the running backs and offensive line, awesome defense. the receivers definitely open Kaepernick’s just not seeing them. like when I watch Tom Brady and even drew Brees those guys are smooth as ice.

  8. Harbaugh should coach the raiders and coach ’em up, he can still live in the same house and teach them how to be finishers. Harbaugh can bring his stanford type offense and turn derek carr into agile pocket passing machine.

  9. They can change coaches, but will that make Kaepernick a better QB, Crabtree a better receiver, or take a couple of years off of Frank Gore’s clock?

    Let the season play out, and try not to make the organization look like Washington of the West. Then they can maybe attract some good quality candidates to replace him next season.

  10. the day they tried to trade him to the freaking browns and everyone heard about it, was the day the 2014 49ers went into the toilet. that NEVER works. it just doesn’t. you can’t have that kind of problem between GM and HC and they can deny it, but you don’t try to dump your coach on the browns unless there is indeed a problem

    now that they are losing, expect some really interesting quotes both ways. Harbaugh is a great coach, but he tends to wear out his welcome. might be best for him to return to college, he picked the wrong QB, Kaep may be more “Explosive” but Smith plays big in big games. Kaepernick disappears.

  11. Cut your losses 49ers and move on….Nobody wants to hear “Who’s got it better than us? ……..Any longer.This guy Harblaaaah is just plain weird.

  12. Why would the Raiders give up draft picks for an over-matched head coach? Oh, right. They did that Jamarcus Russell thing. That’s right. Raiders = bad decisions. Gotcha.

  13. Draft picks from the raiders?? haha yeah right, more like the 9ers would have to give the Raiders draft picks just to take that over-rated loser.

  14. Can you say, “Hello, Michigan”. Harbaugh’s coaching style doesn’t relate to the pros but would probably be welcomed with open arms as the Wolverines new head coach.

  15. I would love for him to come to the Skins but his intensity and leadership ability would be wasted on any title other than Head Coach. The Raiders, Jets, Panthers, or Bears should go after him.

  16. Do your really think it’s possible that a team in the playoff hunt will fire their coach before their season ends?

    Come on.

    He will be gone after the season is over.

  17. The niners were losers before Harbaugh, and they’ll go back to being losers next season when he’s in Oakland.

  18. Draft picks? Why? So he can ride out of town with another horrible choice at quarterback? If they can anything for Kaepernick or Harbaugh, they should do it.

  19. As a Ram fan and 49er hater, I’m utterly baffled by all this. The Rams have been losing big for over a decade. Jim Harbaugh took over a losing team and they’ve been winning big ever since. But oh-no, catastrophe, now they’re only 7-5!

    It looks like fans and owners alike oftentimes don’t know what “not acceptable” actually means.

  20. In an effort to make yet another big splash, the Jets hire Harbaugh and trade for RG3 to give the coach the QB he needs.

    What could go wrong with that?

  21. His antics aside, Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the league. How long were the Niners a joke before he got there? Why don’t they just bring back Mike Nolan or Dennis Erickson at that point? Just my opinion , but I think they will rue the day if they part ways with him. Ask the Cowboys how it is when your front office wins a tug of war with your coach.

  22. Is it really the fans that are so impatience or is it merely a media driven frenzy? SB 2 years ago conference championship last year and now with a winning record fire him in-season, ah ok?
    I no fan of Harbaugh or the 49ers but there is no denying that he’s been successful.

  23. Raiders are not going to give away their 1st round pick for Harbaugh but they would give a 5th..I think 49ers will take whatever someone offers anyways since either way they are firing him.. Raiders with Harbaugh are contenders right away. I don’t understand how 49ers or why 49ers hate this guy. Do they even remember how bad they were before they got him? This guy turned around the whole franchise!
    His dream was always to coach The Raiders and it looks like that dream will come true.. It’s honestly just a matter of time from what I heard. Harbaughs wife has already told fiends that Raiders have already spoken to her. She has no plans of selling her home because she knows she is staying in the bay area. In fact, she bought him a Raiders flag for his up coming birthday! I know someone who she was with when she bought it! She said she doing it as a “joke” but we all know what she means by it.. Jim is coming home.. Raiders WILL be back

  24. The NFC east will eventually show their true colors. Cowboys did it this week. Eagles are probably next.

    The 49ers lost to the defending super bowl champs and one of the best teams in the league…. Still no reason to panic.

    They can still make the playoffs if they win their games.

    The QB has GOT to play better though. If Kaepernick is not going to run when there are acres of grass in front of him…. And throw to defenders instead of his teammates… Then he’s got to go.

  25. thesmedman,

    This has gotten out of hand, but DeBartlow ran a couple of coaches off as well, namely Seifert when they wanted Mariucci to take over, and Walsh’s last few years were always surrounded by uncertainty.

    If I was a Raider fan, I wouldn’t be getting my hopes up for him though. Your team is a long way away from anything. Why the Brown move would have made sense as you can now see, their roster is pretty talented. Harbaugh to the Dolphins makes sense for the same reason. I doubt he’s going to walk into a situation where he will have to go 3-13 or so a couple of years because the talent is so bad,and Reggie McKenzie has certainly left whoever walks in there a pretty significant talent void.

    As far as the 49ers, he’s leaving at the right time. Their window is slowly closing. A good coaching hire can get a little bit out of them for a couple of years, but Kaepernick is another one of those spread QBs who will take forever to develop if ever while the last few years have stripped them of their once superior depth. Not to mention, Baalke hasn’t exactly been great at his job.

  26. Tomsula…really? If Jed can’t keep Harbaugh, and comes back with Tomsula, this will be the most disastrous stadium opening ever. Like we’re counting on Tomsula to out wit Pete the Cheat.

  27. If niners fans look at the team and find Harbaugh the problem, they don’t deserve him. We’ll be glad to take him off their hands across the bay though.

  28. Why picks? Because they provide exclusivity…

    If the 49ers outright can Harbaugh (or just let him finish out his last year), then he’s up for grabs to every team that wants to woo him.

    If the 49ers trade him on his last year, they at least get something in return, possibly a lot if there are several bidders.

    The last known going rate for a HC trade is 2 1sts for Jon Gruden, who wound up beating his old team in the SB with the team they traded him to; so I don’t think talking it down as “only a 5th” is going to have much weight.

  29. thesmedman..people who argue that the 49ers were so much better during the DeBartolo era forget that he (DeBartolo) had deep pockets and spent whatever he needed to be successful. When the salary cap was started, Walsh was not as successful as he was during the pre-salary cap era. If you were following NFL football closely back then, you might remember hearing Eddie D. say “I pay for the best and I expect the best”. That is the way it was. Its not anymore so any argument about the 49ers should consider that.

  30. billyz77 says: Nov 28, 2014 2:47 AM

    Why would the Raiders give up draft picks for an over-matched head coach? Oh, right. They did that Jamarcus Russell thing. That’s right. Raiders = bad decisions. Gotcha.
    You mean Coach Russell in 2007? Oakland collected four draft picks-and 8M cash-for a coach in 2002. That’s more relevant. Bad first round draft decisions are another matter:

    2008-Darren McFadden
    2009-Darrius Heyward-Bey
    2010-Rolando McClain

    Don’t be lazy.

  31. Lets see, the Raiders give up draft picks for a headcoach that cant win? hmm…no I think I will stick with the current guy that can’t win. Besides, if the Raiders really have to have Harbough, just wait one year.

  32. Scot McCloughan promoted Jim Tomsula to head coach in 2010. This time around I think Trent Baalke would promote his buddy Eric Mangini. Both rose through the ranks together under Bill Parcells during the late 90’s with the Jets. Mangini could be Harbaugh’s successor

  33. As I said before, this proves that Roman isn’t the problem. Harbaugh and his warped ego created this craziness. So he should be the one to go.

  34. Most teams would kill for a head coach who could take a 6-10 team that had not had a winning record in nearly a decade and go to three straight conference title games and one Super Bowl. Even with all of the injuries and bad drafting of 2012-2013, Harbaugh will likely get double-digit wins out of the 49ers this year. The man can flat out coach – only Vince Lombardi and John Madden have higher winning percentages as NFL coaches.

    And the 49ers want to get rid of him? Unless they have Vince Lombardi – tan, rested and ready – waiting to replace Harbaugh, Goodell needs to run a drug test on Jed York.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!