After the relationship between Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers front office disintegrated, the team hired from within, promoting defence line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach.
We knew that Harbaugh was feuding with general manager Trent Baalke and owner Jed York since news that the team tried to trade Harbaugh to Cleveland leaked a year ago. Those tensions reportedly spread to other parts of the coaching staff, creating what sounds like a pretty toxic environment.
According to 49ers beat writer Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, Harbaugh and Tomsula weren’t on speaking terms toward the end of the season because Harbaugh heard that York thought was Tomsula was a better coach.
York indicated to people in the building as far back as last summer that he was pretty sure Tomsula could win more games than Harbaugh.
I’ve heard, coincidentally, that Harbaugh got wind of that management sentiment and he and Tomsula barely spoke in the last several weeks of Harbaugh’s’ tenure here.
Kawakami reports that the team went with Tomsula over some more high-profile candidates because he wouldn’t clash with upper management the way Harbaugh did.
The 49ers took a risk by letting Harbaugh go for reasons that had nothing to do with football. He won more playoff games in his three years than the team won in the 15 years before him. While the interpersonal drama in San Francisco does sound untenable, the team won’t get any sympathy from fans if they take a step back after getting rid of one of the most successful coaches in the sport.
Feuds between GMs and successful coaches seems to be the hot new trend in the NFL. Doug Marrone opted out of his Bills contract after leading the team to its first winning season in 12 years because he didn’t agree with some personnel decisions. John Fox and the Broncos “parted ways” after he won 12 games or more in three-straight years. A power struggle also emerged between Eagles coach Chip Kelly and GM Howie Roseman, which ultimately ended in Kelly usurping most of Roseman’s personnel power.
None of those situations sound as melodramatic as what’s coming out of San Francisco.
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