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Jim Harbaugh criticizes Jed York, Trent Baalke in defending Tom Crean

I figured eventually he would lay into them a bit more directly, but it is still a bit unexpected.

Indiana University fired head coach Tom Crean on Thursday, and a familiar name has come out in support of the now former head coach. Crean is married to Jim and John Harbaugh’s sister, and they all have what has been described as a very close relationship.

On Friday, Sports Illustrated’s Mike Rosenberg got the inside scoop from Crean’s in-laws about IU’s decision to fire him. There is some controversy surrounding it given some of Crean’s recent success, and neither Harbaugh is pleased. Jim Harbaugh’s defense of Crean was more of an attack on the people running things at IU, and it led to his biggest shot against his former bosses at the San Francisco 49ers.

Jim Harbaugh looks at Crean’s Indiana tenure and says, “much like my situation in San Francisco, the people that are doing the micromanaging … when it comes to building a ball team, what they know could not blow up a small balloon. In my case, an owner and a general manager. In his case, an administration. They are so similar in that way. And he still wins two Big Ten championships outright.”

It has long been known that Jim Harbaugh had a dysfunctional relationship with Jed York and Trent Baalke. Harbaugh has made his share of cracks about his time with the 49ers, but this strikes me as the most direct comment about York and Baalke. As Eric Branch pointed out, he mentioned deserving an endurance medal for his time with the 49ers, but this comment to SI is a little more direct.

In the general scheme of things, I’m not surprised Harbaugh would make such a comment. But given how he has played things the past couple years, it does still come up as a bit unexpected. I wonder how much of it has to do with Trent Baalke getting fired, and Harbaugh being a little more willing to open up because of that? I don’t know why it is happening now, but Harbaugh certainly did not hold back.