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Jim Harbaugh Says Leaving 49ers Wasn't Mutual Decision in Interview

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2015

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When the San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh parted ways at the end of a disappointing 8-8 season, the 49ers presented it as two sides agreeing to a divorce. However, in a new interview, the Michigan head coach says that wasn't the case. 

Speaking to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News on a podcast, Harbaugh said the 49ers front office instigated the separation, as Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group notes on Twitter:

Cam Inman @CamInman

"I didn't leave the 49ers. The 49ers hierarchy left me" MT @timkawakami: Jim Harbaugh, on his time with the 49ers https://t.co/h7vK5Ql8hA”

After a Week 17 victory against Arizona, the 49ers issued a press release on their website stating Harbaugh and the team "mutually agreed" to part ways and included this statement from team CEO Jed York:

Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions. We thank Jim for bringing a tremendous competitive nature and a great passion for the game to the 49ers. He and his staff restored a winning culture that has been the standard for our franchise throughout its history.

There had been talk of boiling tensions between Harbaugh and the 49ers front office throughout the 2014 season. He reportedly tabled extension talks with the team last offseason, which contributed to the in-season drama of his future with the team. 

The 49ers have completely rebuilt their coaching staff after parting ways with Harbaugh, hiring Jim Tomsula as head coach and getting rid of virtually all of the former regime. Harbaugh found another job quickly, agreeing to take over his alma mater days after leaving the 49ers. 

The 49ers hired Jim Tomsula as head coach after parting ways with Jim Harbaugh.
The 49ers hired Jim Tomsula as head coach after parting ways with Jim Harbaugh.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Letting Harbaugh out of his contract with one year left seemed like a strange move for the franchise given how successful he had been in four years, appearing in three NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. The more information that comes out, the more it seems San Francisco pushed for a change.

Tomsula and his staff have a high bar to live up to, but at least they seem to have more support from York and general manager Trent Baalke than Harbaugh did at the end of his tenure. 

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