Here is a link to my Monday column about why the Jim Harbaugh Era is ending. The full text runs below:
Jed York doesn’t need to fire Jim Harbaugh.
Jim Harbaugh just fired himself.
Harbaugh had a week and a half to prepare for the Raiders, to prepare for the worst team in football, to prepare for a team that came into Sunday’s 24-13 Raiders’ win with one victory and 11 losses, a team that lost the week before 52-0.
Yes, Jim Harbaugh and his world-class Niners lost to THAT team. If the 49ers can’t beat the Raiders, who in the world can they beat? You could break down crying or just die laughing.
The general feeling has been Jed (The Tweeter) York would fire Harbaugh after this season because Harbaugh does not work and play well with others, because he alienated all the wrong people, or maybe he just plain alienated all the people. Jed would fire Harbaugh because the coach lost the locker room — entirely possible based on recent evidence. And Jed would fire Harbaugh because everybody in the organization is just fed up with him.
Ordinarily, it would be strange to fire a coach because of conduct issues when the coach is a winner. Once upon a time, Harbaugh was a big-time winner — got the 49ers to the Super Bowl, got them to three consecutive NFC championship games. He isn’t a winner anymore.
His team is tanking before our eyes and he’s given Jed every reason to fire him. Forget Harbaugh’s questionable conduct. That doesn’t matter anymore. Harbaugh gave Jed real firing cause — football cause, on-the-field cause. When a coach has a good team and when that team flops, an owner should fire him.
When should Jed fire Harbaugh?
After next Sunday’s loss in Seattle could work. The 49ers will lose that game as surely as the sun rises in the east. The Niners couldn’t score much against Oakland’s pitiful defense. They’ll score less against the Seahawks’ world-class defense. Last time, the 49ers played the Seahawks, San Francisco/Santa Clara scored three points.
So, sure Jed should fire Harbaugh after next week’s loss. Jed can promote Jim Tomsula on an interim basis or give Tomsula a legitimate shot at the job.
One other thing. A theory has been circulating that Raiders’ owner Mark Davis wants to hire Harbaugh next season. Forget that. Why would Mark hire Harbaugh when Mark’s pitiful team just beat the Harbaughs?
If you’re doing the math, Harbaugh lost two jobs on Sunday — 49ers and Raiders.
Bad day for Jim Harbaugh.
He came to the interview room after the game. His mood was subdued. But he answered questions politely. You might even say with dignity.
When a reporter asked what went wrong, Harbaugh said, “We didn’t play well enough to win. The Raiders made plays, got stops consistently.”
It was an accurate answer but it wasn’t the real answer. The real answer would have been something like, “We’re very bad.” Maybe the question was wrong to begin with. Maybe someone should have asked why the 49ers have become a sorry ballclub with no offense and an overrated defense that got no pressure on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who stood in the pocket for about an hour on each play looking like a suntanned tourist on the Sonoma Coast out for a leisurely day of whale watching.
Then came the serious question. The big one.
“Do Jed York and Trent Baalke want you to continue coaching the team?
“My priority No. 1 is to win football games,” Harbaugh said. “No. 2: the welfare of our players, coaches and staff. The last thing is my personal professional future.”
Someone else asked, “Do you want to be back with the Niners next year?
“My priority is to win games,” Harbaugh said.
Which means he’s failing at his No. 1 priority — winning. Which means he never answered either question. Which means he didn’t say he expects to be back or wants to be back.
He almost surely will not be back.
I take no pleasure in exploring the possibility of Harbaugh’s dismissal. I like him. But he would have no mercy on a team he is playing. He’s a tough guy and he expects no mercy when the brutal facts are the brutal facts. He is a man who faces up. I give him that credit.
Anyway, Harbaugh isn’t the only 49er Jed should fire. Jed should go on a firing spree.
He should fire quarterback Colin Kaepernick for never living up to his overhyped potential, for starting Sunday’s game with a pick, for ruining the Niners in the fourth quarter with another pick. Who was he throwing that second pass to? No 49er was in the area code.
Jed should fire Kaepernick for his 54.4 passer rating — the pits. Carr’s rating was 140.2. Carr has more poise than Kaepernick, has more of a quarterback’s bearing than Kaepernick, and Carr is a mere rookie.
But the Niners can’t fire Kaepernick because they have no one else. They are stuck with this mope of a sourpuss.
After the game, the sourpuss came to the interview room. He hates the media so much he seemed to grind his teeth. No one in that media room picked off his bad passes.
Asked what went wrong, he said “We haven’t played well.”
This just in. Please stop the presses. Colin Kaepernick says the 49ers haven’t played well.
Asked why he’s not playing at a high level, he explained. “I have to play better.”
Why isn’t he playing better?
“I haven’t been playing well.”
His news conferences are torture. He acts like a suspect at the police station. His play also is suspect, when you come down to it. And he was Harbaugh’s big mistake. Another reason Jed should ditch Harbaugh.
If Jed likes firing people — I imagine it’s fun — he definitely should fire offensive coordinator Greg Roman. No need even to explain that one.
He should fire general manager Trent Baalke for having exactly zero go-to threats on offense, for having zero dynamic running backs, for not drafting a quarterback to supplant Kaepernick, who needs to be supplanted. For having no idea how to draft offensive talent. For allowing his key linemen to get old and weary. For allowing his pass rush to lose its rush.
Let it be recorded that in 2014 the 49ers had a great fall. Their great run is over. Done. Finished. Close the book on the Harbaugh Niners.
If Jed doesn’t fire the right people, he should fire himself.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.