The 49ers announced just minutes after the final game of the regular season a “mutual parting” with head coach Jim Harbaugh.
But Harbaugh says the parting was not mutual at all. Harbaugh made his comments on “The TK Show” podcast, hosted by Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News.
“I was told I wouldn’t be the coach any more, and, then . . . you can call it mutual,” Harbaugh said. “I mean, I wasn’t going to put the 49ers in a position to have a coach they didn’t want any more.
“But that’s the truth of it. I didn’t leave the 49ers. I felt like the 49er hierarchy left me.”
Harbaugh confirmed he was informed he would not be the 49ers’ coach for the 2015 season on Dec. 15, the day after the 49ers’ were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with the team’s 17-7 loss at the Seattle Seahawks.
Harbaugh remained in place to coach the final two games of the season. It was the first time in his four-year run with the 49ers that the 49ers failed to make the playoffs. The 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship game in each of Harbaugh’s first three seasons, including a trip to Super Bowl XLVII.
On the eve of the 49ers’ final game, CSN Bay Area’s Dave Feldman reported Harbaugh had an agreement in place to return to his alma mater to become Michigan’s new head coach.
“Yeah, I wanted to finish what I started –- what we started,” Harbaugh said. “And I have great, fond memories of it. I’m never going to take the position to trash something I was a part of. And the memories that I have, the wins, the championships, the titles, those may be forgotten as time goes on.
“I am never going to forget the players, the loyal coaches and the memories that have of being a part of the San Francisco 49er team.”
Kawakami asked about loyalty of 49ers CEO Jed York and former defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, whom the 49ers chose to replace Harbaugh as coach.
There were leaks from high within the organization that began before the 49ers’ season opener. Many thought the leaks, which portrayed Harbaugh in an unfavorable light, were designed to lay the groundwork for Harbaugh’s inevitable removal as coach. York has publicly denied being the source of the leaks.
Harbaugh said he believes he knows where the leaks originated.
“I have a good idea,” Harbaugh said. “I have a pretty good understanding of some of the things that took place. And I don’t think we’re playing out of the same playbook. But, again, maybe there will be a book someday. Maybe I’ll write a manuscript.
“Those are good questions for (York) and the 49ers hierarchy, and we’ll leave it at that.”
And when asked if he felt Tomsula was campaigning for his job while Harbaugh was still the coach, the former 49ers coach said, “That’s a good question for him. Better than to me.”
When asked about the seemingly awkward situation of having an assistant coach on staff that some in the media identified as Harbaugh’s likely replacement, Harbaugh said, “I wasn’t reading anything that was on the Internet. I was focused on doing my job. But you definitely walk down the halls and people look away or they look at you and you know something’s going on. That’s really about the extent of the knowledge I have of it.”