Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Now that the divorce between Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers seems inevitable, it's hard to tell which narrative fans accept more. The one that portrays Harbaugh as a two-time Super Bowl champion, who built the 49ers from the ground up. Or, the one absolving him of blame for Colin Kaepernick's regression, and this season's offensive malaise.
Regardless, the speculation surrounding Harbaugh is terrifying the faithful. They're afraid of the unknown once the chosen one leaves town. And that fear is causing many to make irrational assumptions based on false premises.
Let's look at three of the most common, terror-driven reasons offered by those who cannot stand the thought of a 49ers/Harbaugh split.
The first, and perhaps most absurd is the idea Harbaugh is the only good coach willing to work in Santa Clara. What fuels that opinion? Does it really follow logic to believe new facilities, a solid roster, and about $5-$6 million dollars per year is unattractive to coaches?
Next on the list of the unreasonable, is the notion general manager Trent Baalke is a poor talent evaluator. This is largely based on the fact the 49ers 2012 draft yielded little, plus, the team still lacks a top-level wide receiver. Fair enough, but if Baalke deserves criticism for failing miserably in 2012, shouldn't he receive some credit for the other drafts he administered?
The other ridiculous argument steeped in panic is the sense that Baalke is too inept to hire another good coach. Think about that for a moment. In Baalke's career as a NFL GM, he has hired one head coach. To project the likes of Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary on him at this stage, borders on the asinine.
With all the scorn directed at Jed York and Baalke (some justified), one would think the 49ers overachieved the last three seasons. Except, if you're honest, you know that isn't the case. In fact, despite a Super Bowl appearance, and three straight NFC title games, one could argue the Niners underachieved. Yet, the perception is Harbaugh turned water into wine, then rescued the team from itself like a Messiah.
But that's what fear does. It freezes you from the inside out rendering you incapable of logical, coherent thought.
Maybe Baalke and Jed York combine to hire a venerable stooge, an unimaginative hack, unfit to tutor high school punters. Maybe Baalke's next three drafts are abject failures and the 49ers plummet to the NFL abyss for a decade. But there is no evidence to support either of those arguments.
Harbaugh leaving is nearly a fait accompli, but as you grieve his imminent departure, do so with the knowledge he does not own a monopoly on winning. In fact, Mike McCarthy, Mike Tomlin and his brother John, already know more about the subject.
Maybe Baalke's next coaching hire is as good as one of them.
Date: December 5, 2014 at 4:48 PM
Comment: You really think baalke hires the head coach he wants? Didn't they INterview carrol? Didn't they have a chance of McCarthy and Rodgers instead of nobody nolan? Who cares if it's baalke or the yorks ( who i think are cheap fools) fault all 49ers fans have cause to fear greatly.
Date: December 5, 2014 at 1:23 PM
Comment: @Mbniner -- Bill Walsh did NOT pick Erickson. Terry Donohue did. Walsh was out of the operation then.
By: Niner Fan
Date: December 5, 2014 at 12:53 PM
Comment: See the history books - The Chargers had their best season ever under Marty Schottenheimer but that coach could not get along with the GM (Aj Smith) The owner chose the GM Smith and the Chargers could never recover - Harbough has his issues - but with those issues comes success - York needs to intervene and resolve the issue - you do not fire success - you make it work
Date: December 4, 2014 at 9:17 PM
Comment: 49erFaithful4evr i am 100% in agreement with you, they seem to be trying to do this through a media campaign. I can't believe it but it's likely going to happen. These guys are going to fire harbaugh and we'll be a ny jets type of team again, it amazes me how arrogant they are
Date: December 4, 2014 at 6:07 PM
Comment: The fact that management would even be contemplating this makes me very angry. It has nothing to do with scared. It has to do with common sense. If it isn't broken, don't try to fix it. Harbaugh is a winner. His record speaks for itself. Name another coach that can lose 2 pro bowl LB's to injury and have their best pass rusher out for 9 games and still have a chance at the playoffs. Since when is an over-enthusiasm for wanting to win a precursor to getting rid of a coach. Steve Young had a 53% completion rate his first 2 years as a starter for the Niners and didn't get over 60% til year 3, so let's give it some time and let Harbaugh do what he's obsessed about his whole life, win us a Super Bowl. I've been a Niner fan for 30 plus years and if Management is trying to justify this through the media, they are delusional. The Niner Faithful wants is to win a Super Bowl so how does blowing it all up and starting all over again with all new coaches make sense????!!!!!
Date: December 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM
Comment: Yes, we should have won SB. We were one bad call (personal foul on Brooks in NO) away from No.1 seed and SB, against a pitiful Denver. So, it is not Harbaugh s mistake. OK, Baalke is a genius, he will get rid of the third winningest coach in NFL history and find an adequate substitution. Is he going to find an adequate replacement for all other defensive coaches that mightleave with Harbaugh as well? Everybody is talking about a disastrous draft in 2012. What about 2013? Besides Reid, who else did Baalke draft? So, from two drafts (2012 and 2013), we have one starter (Reid) and two subs (Looney and Dial). Is he really a genius? Keep Harbaugh by all means!
By: Dallas Niner Fan
Date: December 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM
Comment: Ooh, I feel so much better now. Just because the Niners are about to fire the winiest coach in the NFL, while York is Mr. Tweeter. Baalkee can't draft a decent offensive player and the front office puts personalities and politics ahead of winning. Yea, whats there to worry about?
Date: December 4, 2014 at 1:29 PM
Comment: Remember that Erickson was the hand-picked coach of Bill Walsh! Anyone can screw up. If and when Baalke and York need to replace Harbaugh (I'm not completely sold on him leaving) I expect a thorough and complete evaluation with a lot of inputs from respected NFL people plus Eddy Debartolo. But what should be done first is an effort on both sides to work this out. That will probably mean demoting or firing Roman which will be a sticking point with Harbaugh. If it can't be agreed to, then the next step is to try to secure the outstanding assistant coaches on the defense and Tom Rathman. Then find an offensive minded coach.
Date: December 4, 2014 at 10:47 AM
Comment: Its going to be awesome next year when we go back to the Dennis E. Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary years!!! Can't wait!
Date: December 4, 2014 at 10:25 AM
Comment: Sure, anyone can coach this roster - bring back Nolan.
Baalke arrogantly pee'd away excess picks (refusing trade ups) on IR guys who can't play: Looney, Lattimore, Carradine, B.Thomas. Vance McD (2nd) is a bust. Ward picked 1st to convert to CB - in deepest WR draft in a decade. Core players lost before Harbaugh. He rehabbed Alex and won.
Date: December 4, 2014 at 9:51 AM
Comment: If the 49ers miraculously make the playoffs and get to the NFC championship game again this year, then all the talk for the past eight days are worth only pennies. One SB and two NFC championship game appearances in three years - outstanding. The past success fueled the high expectation of this season - anything less than a repeated performance is simply an unacceptable result. When coaches are paid millions of $$$, especially in SF, you need to progress; otherwise, changes will come very soon. Is the media fueling this story, yes to some extend. But again, at the end of the day/season, it's all about the result.
Date: December 4, 2014 at 9:26 AM
Comment: Geeze. Can we get some honest fact based journalism? I get it when journalists unfamiliar with the team write like this but c'mon
Date: December 4, 2014 at 9:25 AM
Comment: The only great thing the York's have done is hire Harbaugh. York got a gift from his parents running the 49ers. He hasn't done much in his life business wise. He should stay in the background. Baalke is a lot easier to replace than Harbaugh. Why, isn't Baalke (and his lame daughter) packing up to move? You probably need to be a little weird and a jerk to be a great coach: Parcells, Saban, Belichick, Jimmy Johnson, Walsh (had a lot of issues the organization). Perhaps Baalke should have picked some of the Seahawks that have burned the Niners lately. Also, how is this information getting out?
By: Dave B
Date: December 4, 2014 at 9:20 AM
Comment: It'll be fun to see the entire San Francisco sports media look like a bunch of rumor spewing idiots when Harbaugh signs an extension after the season win or lose.
Date: December 4, 2014 at 9:11 AM
Comment: I don't blame either Harbaugh or Baalke. They are both very good and I hope they are together for many great years. I just wonder if York is mature enough and smart enough to make this happen.
By: Micah R
Date: December 4, 2014 at 8:43 AM
Comment: The fear has been established due to the Steve Mariucci firing and Dennis Erickson coming in to replace him. It's important that everyone in the locker room be on the same page, yet we all know the QB and the coach are the most important positions on the team. If they do leave Harbaugh, then they better have someone just as good or at least a plan on who to hire instead of some washed up head coach or a college coach that has only had success in college. I remember the 2-14 season too well.
By: Phil C.
Date: December 4, 2014 at 8:32 AM
Comment: Still, the way people crucify Baalke is appalling. I posted something on Niners Nation (http://www.ninersnation.com/2014/10/19/7002071/baalke-haterade) that listed all the positive player acquisitions Baalke's made since he took over as GM, either via the draft, free agency, or trade. People act like he's been horrible with the draft, when other than 2012 (which again might have fallen short for reasons other than misevaluation of talent), he's been terrific. 2011 and 2013 were grade-A drafts, and I'm still holding out hope that 2012 will be solid also. Reid's already looking like a long-term defensive anchor, and Dial's become a contributor with the injuries. McDonald, Lemonier and Patton have shown flashes; they've been caught in a numbers game for the most part, and McDonald's injury has prevented him from playing much this season.
By: Phil C.
Date: December 4, 2014 at 8:19 AM
Comment: Amen! I've had a theory about the 2012 draft for some time, why Baalke may have selected guys like Jenkins, James and Looney. The other four picks were more like depth picks, and they were drafted in rounds 5-7 anyway, so I won't discuss them. But after the 2011 season, Baalke realized the Niners needed speed; as much success as they had pounding the football, with Gore approaching 30 and defenses adjusting, it wasn't going to work long-term. I feel like Baalke was hoping the Niners would try and open up the offense, and with the switch to Kaepernick, the read-option and Pistol, it looked like they were heading that way. So they got Jenkins and James for speed, and Looney always had pass blocking potential. But for whatever reason, the Niners went back to pounding the football. I always felt there was a tension with the Niners offense; it seems like Harbaugh's Bo Schembechler school of offense and either Roman's or Baalke's desire to open things up were clashing.
Date: December 4, 2014 at 8:15 AM
Comment: As much fun as it is for writers to continually talk about the split between Harbs and the 49ers, I sincerely hope it's just that. Talk. I believe the relationship between Baalke and Harbs is a match made out of necessity for both. Baalke is an excellent GM and talent evaluator, and Harbs is an excellent coach. You need both to have a team that will continually compete for Conference titles. Harbs as good as I believe he is, stepped into a great situation with a team that had a boat load of talent yet underachieving. The players love playing for him and that means a lot. The real problem with the 49ers is Kaepernick continually missing the easy reads on offense. You have to take what the defense gives you. I do like the idea of the team passing a little more to eliminate some of their predictability but Kap has to play better especially on 3rd down. With all of that said I REALLY hope all involved check their egos at the door and continually work together to put the best team out there. For everyone's sake.
By: Die Hard 1987
Date: December 4, 2014 at 7:46 AM
Comment: i agree! I want Harbaugh to stay as well, but also have faith in Baalke! I also agree with the talent Harbaugh took on when he was hired, he has done a incredible job, but I think one of the past three SBs should have been ours! I also do believe, IF they can't come to an agreement, Baalke will find a credible replacement....maybe even one that can get the most out of this offense and Kap!
Date: December 4, 2014 at 7:45 AM
Comment: I think you missed the point , what is suitable ? the next HC has to win the Super bowl , or he will be compared to Harbaugh and question the hire .
By: Zion Niner
Date: December 4, 2014 at 7:22 AM
Comment: Ok, I've really had it with the doom and gloom mentality of the 49 press corpse(pun intentional). Whether it's the "Faith No More" garbage or other articles from Kawakami or whoever. I've had it.
In my opinion it would be utter idiocy to get rid of Harbaugh. Look at the statistics since he has been with the 9ers. You can't argue with that. Sure, Kap looks the fool when we play Seattle, but how much of that is Harbaughs fault. Really?
Kap is a one dimensional qb and everyone knows that. Unless we draft somebody better he is who were stuck with. Harbaugh knows this. If anything the offensive play this year has been a reaction to the complaints that Kap isn't a pocket qb. They are trying to make Kap into something he is not.
Sure, there are problems with the play calling and offensive schemes. But this team is still really good, and it would be like throwing out the baby with the bathwater if a knee jerk reaction got us a different coach. WHO?!?
Better the devil you know...
Date: December 4, 2014 at 6:41 AM
Comment: With all do respect Earl, you are COMPLETELY missing what the real fear is.
Why would anyone truly want to come coach a team that fires a coach after 3 straight NFCCG?
Do you realize the next coach HAS to win a Super Bowl? He has to. It's the ONLY thing Harbaugh has not done. If he doesn't win it, he's an absolute failure. That's a lot of pressure.
Date: December 4, 2014 at 6:30 AM
Comment: Harbaugh is a two-time super bowl champion? aside from that factually incorrect comment, here are the facts: harbaugh is generally regarded as a top 10 coach in the entire football universe - and that might even be a conservative estimation. you're not going to be able replace that, at least immediately. Nobody is disputing that the job will be attractive (although perhaps not as attractive as you might think given the questionable leadership of york). surely there are quality coaches out there. gus malzahn, in fact, immediately comes to mind. but theres also a lot of risk. harbaugh is a proven product, and proven winner. in fact, he boasts the most wins in the nfl over the last three years in his first three years. he also made made stanford, with all its relatively onerous academic standards, into a national football brand with tons of nfl talent. now baalke, don't get me wrong, is a fine general manager. he is a huge reason why we have so much talent and why harbaugh has been able to maintain a competitive team over these last few years. I get that. but we also know that he wanted bill parcells - a man who hasn't done anything with the modern nfl game...
Date: December 4, 2014 at 6:23 AM
Comment: first coach in NFL history to take his team to three straight NFCCG in his first three years
playing the practice squad this year and still has a winning record
the players love him
oh lets fire him
Jim Harbaugh RULES!
Date: December 4, 2014 at 6:19 AM
Comment: This seems more like a beef between Jed and Harbs.
I have zero faith in Jed's ability to hire a coach.
Especially, since word is they "love" Tomsula.
My fear is management will try to be cute and pick "the next big thing" because they have false confidence or that they'll pick someone who is the opposite of Harbs but has no experience like Tomsula.
Date: December 4, 2014 at 6:12 AM
Comment: I haven't heard or read any of those reactions from 49er fans...The issue is who do you bring in that is BETTER than Jim? He has won more games than any other coach in the NFL since becoming the HC. Every media/annalist has blasted Jim because it makes for a good story I get it, but look at wins and loses that's what matters, not egos in the FO. Players have stated they love playing for Harbs and last I checked they were the ones down on the field....Jim needs to man up fire Roman and move the Oline around like his brother did!
By: Vion Kong
Date: December 4, 2014 at 5:49 AM
Comment: Harbaugh and Baalke is not the problem guys...it's Kaepernick and Roman!!! they need to hire better offensive coach that can speak the same language that Kaepernick UNDERSTAND!!!
Date: December 4, 2014 at 5:02 AM
Comment: What the hell.. One bad year and management and news media are ready to throw him out! He brought this team back! So many other teams keep crappy coaches! We would be stupid to let him go!
Date: December 4, 2014 at 4:41 AM
Comment: If he leaves I blame it on the Bay Area sports media you worthless turd's. Find real sport's news.
Date: December 3, 2014 at 11:51 PM
Comment: The fans are scared because they remember the Eriksson/Noland/Singletary days but they forget that we sucked those years mainly because we had very bad GM's. Donahue was the worst GM ever and McGloughan wasn´t very good either because yes, he drafted Willis, Vernon and Bowman but he missed Aaron Rodgers. Now we have Baalke who is a top 3 at his job. Just think about this: Baalke drafted Bowman and Aldon in consecutive years!! He also drafted some very good players like Iupati, A. Davis, Miller, Culliver and this year he nailed it with Lynch, Borland, Ward, Hyde and D. Johnson whom will be very good starters for many years to come. Baalke also has signed some solid undrafted players like Wilhoite and Brock and he has made incredible trades (Boldin for a 6th rounder was a steal). So please relax guys because as long as we have Baalke our team is gonna be at the top of the NFL.
Date: December 3, 2014 at 11:00 PM
Comment: Dont really think niner fans are scared were just not dumb the late great bill walsh and eddie D did NOT allways see eye to eye and even on a football life eddie D admitted to firing and hiring him on many occasions But in the end THEY STUCK IT OUT for the ultimate goal because they knew they were best for each other the TRUTH is 49er fans can only hope and pray these guys do the same SO WE CAN AGAIN REACH THE ULTIMATE GOAL #questforsix
By: Manny Lujan
Date: December 3, 2014 at 10:56 PM
Comment: If Harbaugh leaves bring in Mike Holmgren or Mike Shanahan
Date: December 3, 2014 at 10:26 PM
Comment: You guys are posting start you say is evidence of Harbaugh being forced out. The stuff you quote, the "disaster" of the season, that the Niners are sliding with a 7-5 record. You guys are NUTS.
I'm not saying that I've been living under a rock. I had the same reaction Thursday that everyone else had but I've also calmed down. Know what? We're not out of it, the players aren't panicking, and there were a couple of seasons even Bill Walsh just missed. Did we fire him?
As for Roman and Kap, I think they're trying to make him more of a pocket passer. It hasn't clicked, and so they may abandon it next well (maybe this week, but why give Seattle a hint of possible change in philosophy?). Harbaugh has proven to be an excellent coach. Let them play.
Lastly, there are some beat writers who have been the ones promoting the doom and gloom about Harbaugh and the team. They seem to enjoy it or have done it to be contrary. I dint like that kind oh reporting, and I've stopped reading them completely. Suddenly I'm not depressed about the season.
Woo knows what will happen with Harbaugh's contract. I have no idea, and neither do they. But is he leaving at the end of the season? I doubt it.
Date: December 3, 2014 at 10:03 PM
Comment: Obviously Coach Harbaugh is not into the long run situation. Can Baalke carry the load and keep us competitive? Or is it just the Harbaugh magic. I think back to the dark ages of Erickson, Nolan, Donahue, Singletary, and yes it's scary.
Date: December 3, 2014 at 9:59 PM
Comment: The majority of seats in Levis stadium filled with people who get free tickets from IT and technology companies and their presence is non-existent when needed. Every time 49ers play in Levis Stadium I start to get worried, not because of 49ers, it is because of 49ers fans on MUTE.
Date: December 3, 2014 at 9:56 PM
Comment: Baalke was going to hire 69 years old coach.. what else can you say about his intelligence?
Harbaugh is a great coach but Greg Roman and Kaepernick are disgrace. It take 49ers an average of 5 years before fire incompetent coaches and players.
Date: December 3, 2014 at 9:45 PM
Comment: But Harbaugh DID resurrect this team from the doldrums and the decisions that precipitated his arrival were poor at best. The 49ers do not get Levi's Stadium (albeit the terrible place that it is) without Harbaugh's success. Saying the 49ers underachieved during three title games and Super Bowl appearance (one with Alex Smith at helm and one with a mid-season QB change) is absurd. No coach has ever done that in their first 3 years. I think you're forgetting how inept this team was before he came on board.