Alex Smith doesn’t get why 49ers, Harbaugh couldn’t make it work

Getty Images

Count former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith among those who can’t figure out why 49ers owner Jed York and General Manager Trent Baalke didn’t want to keep a successful coach like Jim Harbaugh.

Smith told the San Jose Mercury News that he’s baffled at why Harbaugh and almost all of his coaching staff were sent packing, despite the 49ers going to three NFC Championship Games in Harbaugh’s four years at the helm.

“I think for me, it’s still just tough to believe all those guys are gone, all that turnover,” Smith said. “I wasn’t there so obviously it’s hard for me to speculate on any of that. I was just kind of shocked. There were a lot of ballgames that got won over the last few years, but for whatever reason, they couldn’t make it work. I don’t know.”

Smith added, however, that he thinks highly of Jim Tomsula, the new head coach, and thinks the 49ers can succeed with him. Perhaps they can. But asking Tomsula to win nearly 70 percent of his games, like Harbaugh did, is a tall order.

76 responses to “Alex Smith doesn’t get why 49ers, Harbaugh couldn’t make it work

  1. Trent Baalke traded Alex, then he chased Jim Harbaugh away.

    If he’s okay being in a life boat with Coach Tomsula, he should check the viability of his life jacket, as well as that of his golden parachute.

  2. Alex neither can i… it was crazy to watch that cluster, explode. I had planned on throwing in my faithful card, but the lack of available offensive coordinatorshas bought them one more year. If our defense slips then I may burn my faithful card. My beloved 9ers, have screwed around to many times.

  3. Some times, people cut their nose off to spite their face —> it’s why we have that peculiar figure of speech.

    Some other examples of not making it work with good coaches:
    (1) Art Modell fired Paul Brown in Cleveland
    (2) Jerry Jones fired Jimmy Johnson in Dallas
    (3) A.J. Smith was behind the Marty Schottenheimer firing in San Diego
    (4) Art Modell fired Marty Schottenheimer in Cleveland
    (5) Jacksonville’s owner [at the time (can’t recall his name)] fired Tom Coughlin (and later stated it was the “dumbest mistake of his life”)

    In similar but not identical situations, one could also argue that the WAY Jerry Jones fired Tom Landry was wayyy out of line. And Art Modell fired Bill Belichick by blaming much of the problems on Belichick that were not actually Belichick’s fault.

    Notice Art Modell and Jerry Jones are each mentioned repeatedly. This does not even count all of their inane hires.

    And Dan Snyder hasn’t even tasted meaningful success with a hire in the first place.

  4. Actually being benched for Kaepernick isn’t a management thing, but if he didn’t get traded to the Chiefs he would probably be the 49ers starting QB because of how bad Kaepernick has been.

  5. It seems that it was pretty much a case of a clash between personalities and large egos more than anything…and they let it get in the way of winning and what was best for the franchise.
    Hard to figure out exactly who the biggest problem was with, but it will most likely all come out in due course, with some major story/expose by some reporter down the line. Pretty much always does…

  6. There are real questions about Tomsula and the media leaks that helped pave the way for York/Baalke to get rid of Harbaugh. It’s almost as if those 3 conspired to ease the fan reaction to Harbaugh’s firing and Tomsula’s payment was the head coaching gig. et tu Tomsula, et tu? Even if the conspiracy wasn’t so dramatic, York/Baalke jettisoned a highly successful coaching staff and replaced them with a joke of a coaching staff that no one else wanted. As long as the York’s own this team they will never experience sustained success. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another NFL owner do so much damage in such a short period of time. And it happens after the people in the area fund a new stadium for the owner. It’s just pathetic.

  7. Who’s next on Yorks list, the players? 🙁

    Such a good rivalry there was between you and us (Seattle), and York hosed it up along with shafting all the SC fans too – pathetic.

  8. Because Jim Fraudbaugh is a massively overrated obnoxious blowhard who hasn’t won anything at any level of football ever. The passing game, which is supposed to be his specialty, was by far the worst unit of those 49er teams each season.

  9. Arguably one of the best coaching staffs in the league dismantled by the Yorks and Baalkes. Remember when Baalke’s daughter from college aped her father’s displeasure with the offense?
    Now the team is stuck out in Santa Clara in a new stadium trying to develop a “class act.”
    But, it won’t be easy or soon to get back to the top of the division. The 49ers will be an 8-8 team for awhile.

  10. Because you have a dim witted CEO who is not even close to being qualified for the position, and an attention or glory starved GM who is in large part living off the work of Scott McGloughan.

    There is no genius in this move. There is nothing that Jed York or Baalke sees in Tomsula that the world doesn’t. This is a foolish move made by buffoons. The only thing Jed York got right in his tenure was hiring Harbaugh and he didn’t acquire Harbaugh because or his business acumen. He was very very lucky that Harbaugh turned down more money and personnel power in Miami, Michigan, and didn’t talk with Elway in Denver because he wanted to coach the 49ers.

    People are citing the Jimmy Johnson/Jerry Jones situation as a comparison. Look Jerry Jones wasn’t foolish enough to fire Jimmy Johnson. He happened to get drunk one night and said some disrespectful things about Jimmy thus Jimmy said there’s no way he could work for him anymore which in essence caused the split. Had that night never happened Jimmy would have coached there at least a couple of more years.

    Jed York is a clown and Baalke is toxic to a football environment and will be exposed as such in the next year or so.

  11. “Because Jim Fraudbaugh is a massively overrated obnoxious blowhard who hasn’t won anything at any level of football ever.”
    Please share your career stats, legendary or otherwise.

    Oh darn, crickets…

  12. So my guess is since York and baalke will trade or release Patrick Willis and navarro bowman due to ineptitude. I’m sincerely sorry 9er fans

  13. The only person here who is more clueless than the 49ers management/ownership team is muslimponder.

  14. Wait until the GM in Washington turns things around.

    The 49’rs have the makings of a team about to go south…

  15. paulieorkid–good comment on coaches fired prematurely. Art turned it around when he went to Baltimore implementing stability with his 2000 SB coach and new GM, Oz. I think Oz is the key there. The Ravens have a great front office and owner now with stability at these positions and a proven QB helps too. Look around the league where stability wins, Pittsburgh, NE, GB to name a few. Many a great coach is fired after a few years, if lucky, because of the weakness at the QB position too. The Ravens never had that guy until Flacco and won with its defense.

  16. The way this is playing out, Kaep is going to regress into what he did last year, permanently. The team will be a .500 team for a few years and Harbaugh will win a national championship with Michigan. Baalke will be fired within 3 seasons.

  17. that young lady skawh is obviously a Shehawks fan so you’re a little biased. He has a great record, you look it up…by the way, nice throw at the end of your SB game…Now back to reality, we knew this was going to happen, Harbaugh just stated that the parting wasn’t mutual. But that is the past, a fellow faithful fan stated that he was upset and wanted to turn in his faithful card, a lot agree with him. My friends do, we want to remain faithful, thus the name, but with owners like Dork, it’s hard. He’s testing us. You get, what you put out, and he has put out a lot of deceit. Will this come back to bite him. Maybe, the only way he can redeem himself is by coming clean, admitting he just couldn’t get along..and winning a SB, that is the only way, right now he’s made it hard for any future coach or coordinator to stay, base upon “winning with class” presser. He was called out by Alex Flannigan who asked him, it’s not realistic for a future coach to win SB 1st year. But Dork for what ever reason, maybe bravado (which is why Harbaugh was forced out)or maybe he has the best staff known to man now. Either way, he has to clean this mess, Go Niners

  18. paulieorkid says:

    (2) Jerry Jones fired Jimmy Johnson in Dallas

    In similar but not identical situations, one could also argue that the WAY Jerry Jones fired Tom Landry was wayyy out of line.

    Johnson purposely got himself fired. If he could have swallowed some of his pride and let Jerry have his little spotlight it would have been the greatest dynasty in history. But now I’ll never forgive Jerry for the way he dumped Landry. I’m actually surprised Jerry didn’t lose his life in DFW at the time.

  19. Here is the dumbest post ever: goatguts3 says:
    Feb 15, 2015 11:39 AM
    Actually being benched for Kaepernick isn’t a management thing, but if he didn’t get traded to the Chiefs he would probably be the 49ers starting QB because of how bad Kaepernick has been.

    He has been so bad that he is 3-0 vs. Rodgers; he threw for over 300 yds in the Super Bowl; he threw for 4 TDs in an away win over Tom Brady; he set an NFL record with 181 yds rushing in a playoff game, AND he has 4 playoff wins. How many does Noodle Arm Smith have???

  20. Its simple. After losing to the seahawks in 2013 he fought for Kaps contract. He got it, with ultimatums. Those ultimatums were for them to play Yed’s way. Forced them to play Kap as a pocket passer. How ironic that the Niners played completely different in Jim’s last year. That’s why his coaches were fired to. Because they weren’t “yes” men. Now they have a bunch of guys coaching I wouldn’t hand a college team to. Get your head out of the clouds people. The Niners want puppets, and they got em.
    One team will be winning next year and that team is going to be from Ann Arbor. Depressing

  21. I can’t wait for the fanbase to actually hold York responsible. . This was a power struggle and had to do with money. York has replaced his staff with cheap imitations.

  22. frk49rs says:
    Feb 15, 2015 11:33 AM
    Alex neither can i… it was crazy to watch that cluster, explode. I had planned on throwing in my faithful card, but the lack of available offensive coordinatorshas bought them one more year. If our defense slips then I may burn my faithful card. My beloved 9ers, have screwed around to many times.

    Really? Atleast your team has had success. Try being a chargers,Bengals,bills,cardinals or any other team that hasn’t had any success. Go burn your faithful bandwagon card.

  23. Yeah, well, thanks for the Offensive Coordinator for my Bills. You guys didn’t like him any more because they missed the playoffs one year. Talk to me after you miss them for 15 years.

  24. It is amazing. Just a short while ago everyone was witnessing the beginning of a great Seattle-SF rivalry — Two powerful, entertaining, talented football teams which would do battle for the next 8 or 10 years. And now due to petty jealousy it’s all gone and only one of those teams– Seattle- will be good for the next decade.

    York and Baalke haven’t just ruined 49er fan’s hopes– they’ve ripped off every football fan in this country and ripped off the league itself. Imagine how much lost revenue there will be because this budding great rivalry has been taken away. TV ratings alone– York and Baalke owe the league for this big time.

  25. I don’t think his comments have any hidden meaning. He is talking about the 49ers at a time he was not there, so it doesn’t have ANTHING to do with him. And he us pointing out that the coach who took his team to a superbowl and three NFC title games is not exactly a bad coach.

    Cynical people always have to post something clever and snarky…

  26. It’s too bad that these men could not agree to continue to succeed with one another. It’s good drama for Niner haters. As for Niner fans, we hope the beat goes on and we win Super Bowls. Starting with the one in our own building. Go Niners!

  27. I know why, Alex. Because a little bit of Jim Harbaugh goes a very long way. The same thing will likely happen at Michigan.

  28. It is easy to see actually. In no job, no matter how good you are, do you get away with being hard to work with. Everyone has worked with someone that is difficult to get along with in their lives. These people tend to fire themselves, then wonder what went wrong. No matter how good you are, it is always a popularity contest. There are plenty of incompetent people that hold high ranking positions in the world. That is because people like them. Then there are even more stellar performers at the bottom of the pile because they rub people the wrong way. A job, even one such as a head coach, works off the same dynamics. What is that old saying? “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know and blow….”

  29. I’ve been an observer of the niners for five years since they play in the same division as the hawks.

    I said from the start Smith for Kaepernick was a dumb move. I knew right away Kaepernick was a Michael Vick/RG3 like clone who usually only last for half a year or a full year and then get exposed.

    He looked alright the next year after his first due to a very weak schedule and healthy offensive line, receiving corps, etc.

    Smith was a smart player and conservative guy. He’s even beaten Seattle before in Seattle. And that win over the Saints was huge. I thought after that win he was “that guy” for the niners.

    I can’t say I feel bad for the niners fans that they got the short end of the stick in the Kaepernick/Smith situation. They basically bashed the guy who helped them beat that great Saints team because of the Giants game after and thought it was good to essentially go with a running back at quarterback.

    Yes, Kaepernick is that bad. Since most teams let him throw in the pocket as opposed to running, he overthrows it like crazy and gets picked off almost as many times as he gets touchdowns.

    Is Tomsula going to be that guy who rejuvenates him? I say yeah right.

  30. you aren’t a very good evaluator of the qb’s. Yes, Kaepernick took a huge step back, but you can’t compare him to RG0…it’s way too early to say he’s that bad. We’re getting into something that Alex didn’t say, he said he was just shocked, now you’re talking nonsense about Kaepernick? I like Alex but he wasn’t going to take us to the SB. It wasn’t until Harbaugh came in that his playing level went up. This past season I would say his playing level went back to where he was playing prior to Harbaugh. Alex Smith is a good man, he handled this whole situation with class.

  31. Maybe Baalke deserves the credit for the Niners success instead of Harbaugh. Maybe Harbaugh does. Maybe they both do. Regardless, it is a bad reflection on ownership that they didn’t seem to work hard to get a highly successful coach and highly successful GM to keep a productive working relationship.

  32. I love 9ers posts on PFT! Within the first 5 comments there is ALWAYS a Shedawks fan. Its laughable how many of those loons have more interest in our team than their own. #patheticnorthwest

    Such a shame you need us to to make you feel relevant

  33. vancouversportsbro says:
    Feb 15, 2015 3:05 PM
    I’ve been an observer of the niners for five years since they play in the same division as the hawks.

    Good to see you are a long time fan. How long have you been in OUR division? AFC was it? smh.

  34. barillasb says:
    Feb 15, 2015 3:15 PM
    you aren’t a very good evaluator of the qb’s.

    LOL, you are wasting your time. Shedawks fans cant evaluate anything. They have only been watching for 2 seasons. They wont know who Steve Largent is without hitting wiki. Evaluate a QB? Forget about it. 😀

  35. And jsut think, the very ‘idiot’ that is York was, four years ago, the ‘Genius’ that hired Harbaugh… So maybe you’re just thinking a little too much with the little solider and not enough with your heads…

    Also, consider this: Jimmy Raye’s passing offense finished 18th in 2010 and 22nd in 2009 and he was fired along with Singletary after the 2010 season.

    Harbaugh’s BEST passing offense came in a 22nd. He also had TWO 30ths and a 29th.

    Now, 49er fans, if Jimmy “I’m stuck in 1965” can call a better passing offense than Harbaugh (with a weaker personnel group)…. And Harbaugh is supposed to be some sort of ‘genius’ coach…


    Roman’s power-rushing attack Harbaugh went away from? Probably. But it certainly wasn’t Harbaugh and his crappy passing game lead by an inept ‘athletic’ QB who can’t play QB.

    It’s time to face it. Harbaugh’s assistants (Roman and Fangio) made that team. Harbaugh did nothing but, last year, decide to make Kaepernick the focus of the offense and drag the team into a 3rd place finish.

    Now, I think York should have hired Fangio. But I know a lot of players thing Tomasula ‘has it.’

    Either he does or he doesn’t and we’ll find out.

    As for Harbaugh… When the Passing Game Guru can’t make a competent NFL passing game using his QB of Choice… You’re kidding yourself if you really think he was a great coach…

    The man is no Walsh. I’m not even sure he’s Marty Schottenheimer.

  36. Why are people criticizing where the 49ers offense ranked under Harbaugh. Especially when his GM can’t evaluate WR and TE talent. Harbaugh won games at a 70% clip and outside of his brother and Coughlin he outcoached every elite NFL coach in the game.

    Like Vince Lombardi said…winning isn’t everything…ITS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS.

    Although Jed York said “winning isn’t the only thing that matters…winning with class is what matters”… I think I would roll with Lombardi’s words than Jed Dork’s.

  37. Dogsweat says:
    Feb 15, 2015 12:24 PM
    Rectify the mistake and bring Alex back, do what ever takes.

    Maybe KC will swap Kaep for Smith?


    I would swap Gabbert for Alex freaking Smith. At least he has a pulse, and a sack.

  38. Dogsweat says:
    Feb 15, 2015 12:24 PM
    Rectify the mistake and bring Alex back, do what ever takes.

    Maybe KC will swap Kaep for Smith?

    Don’t see that happening. How about swapping Chase Daniel for Michael Crabtree?

  39. The thing out of this is York & co tried to make Harbaugh look like the villain, instead well…… we all know how this has played out.
    Jed & co have lost whatever goodwill they got from hiring Harbaugh.

    Firing Harbaugh wasnt the problem. It is entirely likely the coach/ownership relation got to a point of no return (in the owners mind at least).
    The manner of his “slow death” by leaks and the subsequent hiring of a Barnum and Bailey act (JimmyT and co) is what has soured many fans.

    – A completely disillusioned 49er fan.

  40. I don’t think Tomsula is going to be able to match Harbaugh’s record, but I am not sure that automatically means he is a bad coach. Harbaugh came in after the 49ers had been drafting high for years. The team had plenty of talent but abysmal coaching. Now the team has good talent but they are aging and they don’t have a lot of cap room and they have the 3rd toughest schedule. Quite a few of their players are coming off significant injuries. So teams go in cycles in terms of how competitive they are. I wouldn’t say that is all going to be because of Tomsula.

  41. I agree with almost everything you said, making Harbaugh go was the problem…just step one of this mess…the rest I would agree with at every point

  42. at dog sweat, sorry but I have to disagree with you, you’re panicking now at going to Alex Smith with what ever it takes is the biggest mistake you can do. It takes more than 1 year to make a career. Everyone was on Kaepernick’s corner, wow he’s the best, Alex who? Now he has a year that just stalled and you’re already wanting Alex? Until Harbaugh came, he never gave us a winning season. Yes it had to do with coaching but he was average. This year, he went back to the way Alex plays. Remember he threw an int against the 49ers when our team was in disarray. No, you draft a qb, but you don’t give up on Colin. that would be crazy. Wait for how he does.

  43. Unless you have a locker room full of high character players like the 1980s 49ers dynasty had, you better have a strong coach that has some clout and some organizational power. I don’t see that here. Guys like Frank Gore and Justin Smith don’t need a strong coach. But that list isn’t too long when I look at the 49ers roster.

  44. hopefully Navarro, Patrick stay, unknown if Ahmad stays, especially when he got into it with his defensive line coach, who is now the HC. We have great back up lb’s, who’s names I forgot! But on the O, we still don’t know how Kaepernick will bounce back from last year. Iopati from all reports will not be back due to free agency. From reports as well, Dork is going the don’t pay them that much route. Tonebones, I have to agree with you. I think it’s all about coaching…these are the core that were with Singletary, when Harbaugh came in with his crew he turned this team around. I won’t judge the players, but I can say from what this son of owner did, was remove one of the best coaching staff,except for Roman, we had a great coaching staff, hopefully they can prove us all wrong, Go Niners

  45. Never forget Jim Fraudbaugh benching Alex Smith for his personal pet project Kaepernick because Smith was brave enough to report his concussion symptoms.


    First off, the quid pro quo;

    Not a Niners fan. Not a Harbaugh fan. But…

    If you have a QB playing who is winning you games, do you really go back to the injured guy (when healthy) and risk losing the hot hand? NE never looked back at Bledsoe when they put Brady in, that worked out well, no? For the flip side – remember when Flutie got screwed when they put (Rob?) Johnson back in when he was healthy…AND THEY LOST!!!


    Winning, to me, is paramount. Sure – Harbaugh comes across as a whinny, arrogant, hard headed SOB, who talk back…but so what? He was winning for you with the same team that was under-performing when he wasn’t there.

    Sounds like Yorke and Balke want to have control and let everyone know they are in charge.

    Bad thing – pride and ego…it’s gonna cost them.

  46. my front office is a dumpster fire but i’m still a member of the faithful, supported them through the rough times and i’m ready to do it again…I will just make a dart board out of Baalke and York’s face. I’ll do the half face of each.

  47. Sheesh, one bad season and a coaching change doesn’t ruin a franchise. The core group is there and they need to address some other personnel issues, but there’s no reason why they can’t have a good year without a lame duck for a coach. Many franchises would love to have the talent the 49ers have. I’m not a fan, just a follower since the Montana days. Injuries, legal issues and the HC distraction didn’t help much and once they iron that all out during the offseason, I don’t see why they can’t succeed in 2015.

  48. Baalke and York are self-centered jerks that are more concerned with feeding their egos than building a powerhouse team.

    Anyone that thinks going from Harbaugh to Tomsula is a good move knows nothing about football. When a team gets a winning coach, to hold on like the grim reaper.. and never let go.

    There are only a handful of great coaches n the NFL. Harbaugh was one of them..

  49. The problem is the York family are autocrats. Their corporate attitude is “might makes right”
    Jed York is a puppet. Denise and her husband, the idiot egomaniac dr. make the big decisions. Like leaving SF. It’s about the money. That’s all they care about. They’re addicted to money, power, control. The 49er history is coach centric. Now it is run like a soul less corporation. The best thing to hope for is that they sell to sensible people who return the control of the team to football people. The Warriors are a model to follow.

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.