At the conclusion of the 2011 season, a post came up on Niners Nation concerning which free agent contracts were due. This was the team that managed to go to the NFC Championship game in Jim Harbaugh’s first season. A season most thought the 49ers would finish dead last in their division.
I bring this up because I vividly remember one comment among the others hashing out what should be done saying, “The front office isn’t dumb anymore”. We all certainly thought that, and they showed their competence with their contract negotiations and cap maneuvering that offseason.
Unfortunately, this shot of intelligence was shorter than a 49ers coaching tenure.
Fast forward to 2015. The 49ers went 8-8 due to injury and a plateau of scheming for the offense, the media had a circus over the drama in the 49ers organization, and Jim Harbaugh
got fired mutually parted ways with the 49ers for not being a nice enough guy his inability to win with class. The writing was on the wall through the season, but when a guy walks in and takes the 49ers to repeated winning years only to get fired, that one thought about the front office’s competency may have been altered.
And then, this happened. Following Harbaugh’s departure, Jed York and then-general manager Trent Baalke tried to ease the frustrations and shock of fans everywhere, and wound up just making the heat on them turn nuclear. The press conference was a disaster. “Winning with class”, “Reloading, not rebuilding”, and “Mutually parting ways” all became punchlines over the next year for the Oscar movie gold this press conference provided.
We’re a few years removed, and now rather than something the FCC may want to deem obscene due to the complaints, this now just brings back memories and gives a terrific foreshadowing of what was about to come. The team would pass on Adam Gase as Jim Harbaugh’s replacement and hire Jim Tomsula, a decision even worse than the one of firing Harbaugh. Tomsula could screw up a cup of coffee. It wasn’t until 2017 that Trent Baalke — the yang of Jim Harbaugh’s yin — was fired that the 49ers could begin righting the ship and attempt to dig out of the hole the Jim Harbaugh firing, and Trent Baalke retentions got them in.
So this press conference is all about Baalke and York trying to keep their image after firing one of the best coaches to come across that organization in a long time. Here’s hoping Kyle Shanahan doesn’t add to what may have been one of the most boneheaded decisions in sports this decade.