THE SANTA CLARA
January 8, 2014
It amazes me how quickly the San Francisco 49ers can forget how bad they were before Jim Harbaugh came to the rescue.
Harbaugh didn’t take the reigns from Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. He replaced Mike Singletary and faced the daunting task of fixing Alex Smith, who was nothing but a bust before Harbaugh arrived. From 2003 to 2010, the 49ers’ best finish was a mediocre 8-8.
In his first season, Harbaugh had the Niners two muffed punts away from a Super Bowl. In his second year, they were seven yards away from a Lombardi Trophy.
The next year, they were a late Colin Kaepernick interception from another Super Bowl appearance. So I think we can forgive Harbaugh for one .500 season, which was the high point in the prior 49er era.
It’s not Harbaugh’s fault that Kyle Williams dropped two punts in the NFC Championship game in 2012 or that Richard Sherman barely tipped Kaepernick’s pass last January. All you can expect from your coach is to compete for championships.
Harbaugh did that. Letting go of Jim Harbaugh was a mistake. There’s no other way around it.
CEO Jed York claims there were philosophical differences between him and Jim Harbaugh, but I can’t understand why York thinks he should be making these critical football decisions.
Would you trust Harbaugh, a 15-year NFL quarterback who’s proven himself as an elite coach in both college, at Stanford University, and the pros, making the important decisions for the 49ers? Or do you want York, a man with no playing or coaching experience, who was given his job by his parents, running the franchise?
This past season was a disappointment. But when faced with adversity, the 49ers shouldn’t have folded so quickly and gotten rid of the coach who gave them the best chance to win Super Bowls in over 20 years.
Consistency is king in the National Football League, not brash overreactions. The Packers and Patriots have proven this.
Mike McCarthy has been coaching the Packers for nine years; Bill Belichick has been in New England since 2000. The 49ers were poised to return to the top, but now they look as dysfunctional as ever.
No coach available has proven to be on the same level as Harbaugh. The bottom line is he wins. You’d think that would be important enough to outweigh some petty disagreements between Harbaugh and the front office. Apparently not.
But now, Harbaugh will go rescue University of Michigan football and the 49ers will try to move on. Maybe their next coach will be just as great, or even better. But Harbaugh was a sure thing, and San Francisco should have never let him walk out the door.
Andrew Slap is a sophomore communication major.