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The 49ers Situation Got So Toxic That Jim Harbaugh And The New Coach Weren't On Speaking Terms

Tony Manfred
jim harbaugh

Grant Halverson/Getty Images After the relationship between Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers front office disintegrated, the team hired from within, promoting defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach.

We knew 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 as if it was 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.

From Kawakami:

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 the team went with Tomsula over some higher-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 it takes a step back after getting rid of one of the most successful coaches in the sport.

Feuds between GMs and successful coaches seem 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's usurping most of Roseman's personnel power.

None of those situations sound as dramatic as what is coming out of San Francisco.

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