Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Week 17 Offers Depressing Paradox

Jesse Dumas
Dec 26, 2014 at 9:51 PM

It's Friday and Christmas is finally behind us. Rest assured, not many Colin Kaepernick jerseys were exchanged on Thursday Morning this week. Any 49ers fan, myself included, really doesn't want to dwell on thinking about the season behind us nor even the one solitary game that lies ahead.
Losing your last 5 games in a row to close out a season never leaves a good taste in your mouth, and considering this is Jim Harbaugh's last game, the sentimental notion of seeing him go out with a victory is legitimate. Yet if the team wins, they lose and so do we.

A win obviously affects next year's draft position, a most pivotal draft in light of the changes to come, and it would all but assure Seattle would lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Seahawks may do that anyway, playing the Rams at home in Seattle doesn't sound like much of a threat for them to slip up now, no disrespect to the Rams and maybe the best spoiler-coach in the business, Jeff Fischer. But the Cardinals stand as the only legitimate chance of making the Seahawks play on the road this winter with a win this weekend and if they can't pull it off, Seattle is just that much more likely to make an obnoxious repeat appearance in the Super Bowl.


Seattle is basking in the glory we all thought we were in for when Harbaugh got the team into the Super Bowl in his second year and Kaepernick looked like an all-time-great in his first 10 games. Instead, a few wicked beatings up in Seattle and a backbreaking NFC Championship game loss later and the whole thing has come off the rails. If the 49ers send Harbaugh out with a win this weekend, and they all but guarantee that narrative is going to get worse before this spring.

It's impossible for me not to cheer the 49ers on when I'm watching the game and I'll say this very plainly, I'll remain a Harbaugh fan no matter where he ends up. (With the potential exception being him going to Michigan, I'm a Wisconsin Alum). The guy is a cult of personality and he grinds non-stop to achieve success. In his element, he's the most entertaining coach to observe in any sport in any league in any country in the world. And it's not just grandstanding, this guy lives it.

Watching this season play out the way it did was like watching a completely different person. Baalke and York had him backed into a corner and he looked timid, disengaged, and defeated by the 3rd week of the year. He of course says that nothing has changed in his approach, but the tape doesn't agree with the coach. There were flashes of his former self, but clearly nothing was like it had been through three wildly successful seasons. Maybe he can shake off the worries for this last game and put on a good show for the fans, but again I'm not sure I even want him to.

I'll obviously remain a fan of the 49ers no matter what happens, but my confidence and my enthrallment with this franchise and its leadership has been challenged this year. Losing this game could be beneficial to the long term success of the franchise, something I still hold out hope for with this group of players, and I feel loyal to that no matter what's going on. Yet, at this moment the faces of the franchise are Trent Baalke and Jed York and neither of those guys really tops my list of favorite people these days. Cheering for things to break their way doesn't feel entirely natural either.

No matter what happens, win or lose against the Cardinals, the season still has little to offer in the way of silver linings. Putting it to bed finally should be cathartic to some degree and as soon as some closure with Harbaugh happens and the next guy is found, excitement will return. At least the expectations will be tempered and the non-stop anxiety of this season will be put in the past. Next year will still be packed with concerns I'm sure, but I've never watched a season like this that was almost completely bereft of joy or excitement, even during some of the wins. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Yet, the window of opportunity for this team is far from closed. Matt Barrows wrote a great piece about his perception of what happened to this group and a point he made about the team playing 8 extra games over the past 3 seasons (deep postseason runs) rang in my ears. Professional football is perhaps the most brutally violent sport in the world, combined with the pressure of trying to win the championship, fatigue is inevitable. It's particularly challenging when the only satisfaction achievable is a championship and no real satisfaction has yet been felt.

We're a full 20 years removed now from the last Championship this team has won, so giving up on this group is impossible for a truly faithful fan. The thought of waiting another 20 is near unbearable, not an unrealistic number should they start to "rebuild". Let's hope Baalke finds his man and he can pull off a Harbaugh-like rejuvenation of a roster as loaded as they come. It seems unlikely, but so did this season to begin with.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • cableguy
    49'er fan for over 30 years myself. Just because I do not want to put my support behind an organization that has bad ownership and is not committed to winning does not make me a "whiner". Being accused of that by blind fans is nothing but a bunch of "gobble, gobble turkey"!
    Dec 27, 2014 at 10:46 PM
  • Paydirt1949
    Not sure I agree with the theory that the extra games played the last few years has been a factor. The patriots have played an extra 2 or 3 games for the past decade and they continue to win every year. Also, Fangio is under contract after the season still, right? So he's going to be in SF in some capacity unless he gets fired (which seems unlikely) or gets a head coaching gig somewhere else.
    Dec 27, 2014 at 12:00 PM
    Response: Valid point about New England. They don't play as physically as the 49ers or any team in the NFC West for that matter, but still they play a couple extra games every year it seems. They also have Tom Brady though, that covers for a lot of weaknesses. Good point about Fangio as well. I forget his contract isn't on the same timeline as Harbaugh's.
  • castaldave
    Harbaugh will be fine and so will the Niners. They better hire Fangio or he will certainly be gone. Then we're in deep doo doo. Harbaugh is a good coach, but unwilling to EVER admit that he could have made a better decision. Refusing to fire Roman, and defending him until the end is what hurt our team, and ruined this season! Harbaugh can't even begin to understand that his offense is completely broken; can't even get a play in on time after 4 years (which may have cost us a Super Bowl) red zone offense getting worse for 4 consecutive years, very predictable play calling, trying to make Kap a pocket passer… This is NOT great coaching, it's actually poor coaching. Personally, I'm excited to see what our offense can do next year under … anybody but Greg Roman. As I was playing catch with my son yesterday, I told him this Sunday is the last time we EVER have to hear: Red 80 Red 80- looks like the Forty Niners called time out to avoid another delay of game!
    Dec 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM
  • Gavin
    I always thought Jesse was kind of a frontrunner as a Niners fan, considering we grew up in Wisconsin when the Packers stunk and Montana to Rice ruled football. But, at least we can agree that Michigan sucks. Seriously. Muck Fichigan.
    Dec 27, 2014 at 9:19 AM
    Response: Best. Comment. Ever.
  • ron
    Its alot of things Vernon dropping ever pass that mattered everone hurt idiot players rappin and gettin drunk drivings and brass knuckles and everones contract on the line just a bad year for the whole team the contract buisness is what ruins teams and greedy players with guarantee money has screwed the game so much so as lobg as we as a nation keep getting softer so does sports
    Dec 27, 2014 at 8:46 AM
  • Edd
    First, I'd like to say that I received a Kaepernick #7 jersey this Christmas, and I believe I will get many good years out of it. As to Harbaugh leaving, I actually support that because his archaic offense has been a failure since he first hired on. Jesse, you touched upon injuries, but the vast majority of injuries were on defense and they still were a top-5 defense regardless. Harbaugh made a fatal mistake of valuing relationships over performance with regards to his staff. Roman should have been fired, plain and simple. Harbaugh talks competition, but apparently that doesn't apply to his coaches. The window for a superbowl is very short in today's NFL. Harbaugh had his chance and failed. I would like to see the front office retain Fangio and get a better Offensive mind than Roman, and a HC that values performance over loyalty.
    Dec 27, 2014 at 7:37 AM
  • Maty.
    These last five games should open peoples eyes. Most of the 49ers great players are On IR, gone or coming off suspensions. The roster is young inexperience players. And a college QB. Harbaugh is 0 & 5 with this roster. He can't succeed without that great roster. I can't see Harbaugh going to another NFL team. None of them have the roster 49ers had when Harbaugh arrived. The first year 5 defensive players were voted All Pro. Nearly half the defense, how often does that happen. Thank you GM Baalke. The offense was never improved. This season demonstrated that. Yes, no new coach will do what Harbaugh has done. That because most of the great player are four years older. In the NFL thats a eternality. The door is closed on Harbaugh ever getting his SB in SF. Time to move on & try again.
    Dec 27, 2014 at 7:20 AM
  • Michael
    9ers fan for over 40 years here and I am embarrassed...of you sorry a** so-called fans of this team. No wonder why everyone calls up "whiners", you guys make me wanna puke! Did you really expect JH to be the HC for ever? Good riddance, go follow the idiot to Michigan, the 9ers don't want you or need you!!!
    Dec 27, 2014 at 6:52 AM
  • Tom
    I have said what most on this board is saying, I have been a niner fan since drafting Joe Montana. the 8 years of pain prior to hiring Jim almost had me going assuming the new ownership would never get it right. The hiring of JH was the best thing Jed Y did and now he is going to piss it away because he most likely does not want to pay the coach what he is worth. It almost comes off as he just hired Jim to get the stadium deal done knowing JH wins EVERYWHERE he goes. No longer a niner fan but a huge JH fan, we need more people in this country like JH, hard working blue collar toughness, it's what built America. Jed York could learn alot from people like JH, but JY does'nt care he has what he wants.
    Dec 27, 2014 at 6:33 AM
  • Old49er
    Sad to say I am leaving the 49ers as well after 48 years of being a fan. The organization over time has lost the fabric that made us proud. We won with pride and lost with dignity. The team has lost it's class and mystic that made us proud to call ourselves Niner Nation! This is now the Santa Clara 49ers so my Christmas wish was for a team name change so we can memorialize and separate the two eras. Very, very sad. I hope the Jed got a lump of coal for Christmas.
    Dec 27, 2014 at 6:00 AM
  • David Nally
    Jesse makes some very good points. The last few years reminds me of the days we just couldnt get past Dallas, and then Super Joe to Clark, and our run was on. Lately its been goal line stands against us an penalties that have cost us huge games. I must say I have no confidence that there is another coach out there that could carry Jim's jock, with the exception of Gruden, an I dont think he is leaving the booth. So I see an endless senario of hire a coach, 4years latter, hire another. Very depressing. But I will still be rootin. And always remember, york is a idiot!
    Dec 27, 2014 at 5:42 AM
  • cableguy
    I still shudder when I think of John York saying he intends to provide a "fiscally responsible team" in the 90's. It was then that the 49'ers I had known and loved ceased to exist. I read about Jed talking with Eddie D. Then hiring Harbaugh. Then 3 years of awesome football. Had doubt's when they burned Alex. Now this year! Organization stinks from the top still and will continue to be difficult to get your heart behind. The Yorks got their stadium, we have an organization that is primarily concerned with the fans pockets.
    Dec 27, 2014 at 4:38 AM
  • tee perez
    This is my thoughts on this whole thing.... Harbaugh is gone,, michigan is offering too much money for him to turn it down... and as far as Greg Roman goes,, I think his last half of the season play calling lacks any new schemes... its old and stale... and I hate the fact that they are trying to force kaep to be a pocket passer... WHO CARES WHAT FOX SPORTS ANNOUNCERS THINK !!! LET KAEP BE KAEP.... WHO CARES WHAT STEVE YOUNG THINKS !! Steve young never ran for a 180 yds like kaep... they need to get back to what got us winning... but in this off season they need to BEAST UP OUR OFFENSIVE LINE... bcuz right now its weaker then a three day old diaper lol
    Dec 27, 2014 at 2:23 AM
  • Zach Ameen
    It is very obvious that Rick Fangio will be retained after he is hired as a head coach of 49ers ( 2 mill cheaper than Harbaugh). Baalke probably is thinking that hire fangio as a HC and hire a good OC like Mike shanahan or Nor Turner and re shuffle the team and he is good to go.......yeah right My take on this is that Baalke's days are numbered because he will not be able to blame anyone else except his own self.
    Dec 27, 2014 at 1:20 AM
  • Zach Ameen
    This is Harbaugh's last game and This is my last game as a 49ers fan and I will follow where ever Coach Harbaugh goes. I am done supporting 49ers because I know that York and Baalke duo can't win from now on.
    Dec 27, 2014 at 1:10 AM
  • Casey
    In response to that last comment: what source of yours is guaranteeing that Fangio stays? That seems to be the supposition of most people, yet not one can cite a single source to lend credence to this supposition.
    Dec 27, 2014 at 12:09 AM
  • Monsterniner
    As long as Fangio stays we´ll be fine. Everybody talks about Harbaugh taking us to the 3 championship games and the SB appereance (he lost it, don´t forget it) but the real reason for that success is Fangio´s defense. The Harbaugh & Roman´s ofense never has been top 10. The Fangio´s defense always has been top 5. Our offense always has been terrible in the red zone and Harbaugh is an offensive minded guy. Kaepernick is still very raw......very raw in his 4th year in the league......very raw in his 3rd season playing which means that the "QB-guru" isn´t as guru as we tought. Get over it guys. Harbaugh is gone and our offense will be better because it can´t be worse. I´m a Niners fan.....not a Harbaugh fan.
    Dec 26, 2014 at 11:56 PM
  • Casey
    I couldn't agree more. This season, it's literally felt like you've watch your wife cheat on you. First you saw her go out to dinner with another guy. Then you saw the inevitable kiss. And the last couple weeks have felt like you've witnessed her being violated right in front of you. Now this week is the cleanup and go. How on earth it got to this point dumbfounds me. Are you telling me that Baalke/York, who aren't even around the team 24/7, can't work with a winner? With someone who led the team to three straight NFC championship games? My word, how have they escaped the scrutiny and criticism of the media? It'll be hard to watch this team if we bring up some young "boy genius" or (as much as I like him) Jim Tomsula to coach this team. It'll be hard to watch this team next year knowing what could have been with Harbaugh. "Once more into the breach dear friends! Once more!"
    Dec 26, 2014 at 11:20 PM
  • Charlie
    I've been a Niner fan for 40 years, but my allegiance to the team ends with Jim Harbaugh's exit. Jed York & Trent Baalke's ego's have ruined the franchise. Jed got his stadium though. Without Harbaugh, it would have never happened. Back to mediocrity for the long term. Very depressing.
    Dec 26, 2014 at 11:03 PM
  • randy
    My wife and I have had season tickets for more than 20 years. This is it for us. The moron that owns this team has lost us. Not much more to say. This York dude is flat out never getting another dime of our money. Just sayin'!!
    Dec 26, 2014 at 10:18 PM

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