Hey so, did you guys hear the Jim Harbaugh spoke to Tim Kawakami on Friday, and that he confirmed that he'd been fired and that his parting from the San Francisco 49ers wasn't mutual in the slightest? I'm sure you could have missed it -- we didn't talk about it much and it wasn't really a big deal. So I figured we should discuss it a little more.
Really though, there is one more aspect of this that I wanted to talk about, and it involves me going on a good old fashioned rant. This is all history at this point -- nothing can be changed and the 49ers are basically set for next season whether we like the setup or not. There's also plenty of speculation, but I'm going to lead you through what Harbaugh said and proceed to rant like a maniac immediately after. All good?
I'm sure we've all heard the rumors that Jed York was responsible for some, most or even all of the leaks relating to Harbaugh this past season. While the team struggled on the field, there were constant reports about unhappy players, rifts in the locker room, Harbaugh being disliked by everybody, Harbaugh and Trent Baalke being on bad terms and much more.
Since Jim Tomsula's hiring, there's also been talk that he has been "the guy" for awhile now and that he was angling for Harbaugh's job all along. I want to get a couple things out there first before I continue. The first is that I don't think Tomsula's willingness to be a "yes man" and accept the job in whatever situation Harbaugh was let go had any bearing on whether or not Harbaugh would go. The second is that I have no idea either way.
Keeping with the bit about Tomsula, one of the things that really struck me as odd from Harbaugh's interview with Kawakami is this exchange:
Q: What was your relationship like with Jim Tomsula at the end? Did you feel like he was at all campaigning for your job while you still had it?
-HARBAUGH: Yeah, that's a good question for him. Better than to me.
-Q: Was it awkward? His name was certainly out there as a possible potential replacement.
-HARBAUGH: Uhh, there was definitely a point where you walk down the halls and you... I wasn't reading anything that was on the Internet, I was really focused on doing my job... but definitely walk down the halls and people look away or they look at you and you know something's going on.
That's really about the extent of the knowledge that I have on it.
-Q: That can't be a comfortable situation to work in.
-HARBAUGH: Better questions for others.
Again, I'm not sure I have too much of an opinion on the Harbaugh-Tomsula dynamic but it does bring one thing to the forefront to me: was Vic Fangio ever really an option? The 49ers interviewed Fangio, and several other candidates. But was the job always going to go to Tomsula? Was that all as big a farce as this whole situation as well? Again, this is speculation from a writer and a fan more than anything, but I can't get that thought out of my head.
I was ultimately excited about Tomsula at one point, and it's all unraveling. I think the man is a good coach and a favorite of the players, but I don't know if he's been set up to succeed, or even if that's possible under the current front office regime. Which leads me to the next part of this post, and the inevitable rant.
Kawakami is among those who has always believed that York was the one behind the damaging leaks last season, and he asked Harbaugh about this on Friday.
"Those are good questions for him and the 49er hierarchy," Harbaugh said, "And we'll leave it at that." I don't think there's any way Harbaugh could have went through that whole process without being apprised of the situation by somebody, and I think, with what he's already said about being fired, that he would have been honest and up-front if he thought that wasn't the case. The fact that he's giving this kind of non-answer is incredibly telling.
It invites the possibility that this was the case. And again, I want to note that nothing from this interview is terribly surprising, but confirmation is always good to have. I never got a chance to write about the leaks during the season -- that's just how my schedule worked out. But I do have a lot to say about it -- engage rant mode.
To put it absolutely clearly: if there's any kind of truth to the talk of York being the one behind these leaks and being the one who orchestrated this divorce since early on in the 2014 season, then he shouldn't be defined as a scheming mastermind who executed his plan perfectly, he should be defined as unqualified, spineless and most of all: immature. I'm not privy enough to insider details or brave enough to make that pronouncement definitive, but I've certainly seen enough to consider this a possibility.
It's already amazingly ridiculous that they wanted Harbaugh gone at all, when history has shown that there's supposed to be give and take in these kinds of relationships. But what's transpired, or what is heavily rumored to have transpired is so far out of the realm of acceptability that York simply coming out at the end of the season, firing Harbaugh and saying that the front office simply could not reconcile differences with the coach would actually have come off as mature and well-reasoned in comparison
We're talking about a scenario that is so mind-numbingly stupid and yet oh-so believable that firing a proven winner and admitting to doing it out of pigheadedness is actually the better course of action than what possibly happened.
End rant mode. I'm not sure what the point of this post is, other than to highlight one aspect of Harbaugh's interview from Friday, book-ended by me flipping tables and throwing chairs. I think what's most frustrating about this is that I've probably engaged in more than my fair share of schadenfreude when talking about other NFL owners and the misery they've inflicted on their fans. I think York's is far worse than general incompetence and bullishness, but ultimately it's just sad that we can't really do anything about it.
At the end of the day, I bleed red and gold and though my pessimism is at the forefront of my personality, I want to make it clear that I'll support this team until I can't anymore. And if I stopped now, then I'd be admitting that things are truly worse than they were over the decade or so before Jim Harbaugh. I refuse to do that.