Thinking back on the 49ers' 2014 season, I can't think of a better way to describe it then to warn fellow Niner fans about the future...we are fucked! It's been a tough season, with a mix of off-field drama, too many injuries, and coaching issues.
The news that tends to dominate 49ers land is the impending "divorce" between the 49ers front-office and Jim Harbaugh. I don't have the inside scoop of what's going on, where Jim Harbaugh will coach next season, or any of that. I might be the Brown Guy, but even I don't know all things. That said, I can't help but wonder who can replace Jim Harbaugh.
For all of his faults, too many to list here, there is no denying that Jim Harbaugh is an excellent coach. Think about it, he turned a 49ers team in 2011 from an underachieving, not that important team to a powerhouse defense, efficient offense and one of the biggest stories of the 2011 sports world. Once a team that didn't have a winning record prior had somehow won 13 games, easily winning the NFC West, and was a muffed punt away from reaching their 6th Super Bowl. Not only could the team not win from 2002 through 2010, but they never even sniffed the postseason. The last 3 seasons, however, they were Super Bowl favorites or at least potentially contending to represent the NFC.
His win/loss record is just as impressive. Even if you include this dreadful 2014 campaign (up to Week 16), Jim Harbaugh has coached himself to a 42-20-1 regular season record. His postseason record is pretty impressive as well, going 5-3. It's fair to point out that the postseason saw the 49ers exit with devastating losses including two NFC Championship losses and the dreaded loss to the overrated Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. Still, it's a strong postseason record that also includes a 3-1 road record. That's significant because prior 49ers regimes only won 1 road playoff game. That's right, for all of Colin Kaepernick's faults (which surprisingly were not present when the team was winning a lot...but that's a post for another day), he won more road playoff games than Joe Montana and Steve Young combined. Now I'm not suggesting he is better than the two greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, that would be silly. I'm just pointing out that even the quarterback project that is Colin Kaepernick was coached up well enough by one Jim Harbaugh.
Perhaps the more impressive win/loss records come against the following coaches:
- Bill Belichick (1-0)
- Tom Coughlin (2-2)
- Andy Reid (2-0)
- Mike Tomlin (1-0)
- Sean Payton (2-1)
- Mike McCarthy (4-0, 2 came in the playoffs)
- Pete Carroll (4-5)
Those coaches combine for 12 Super Bowl appearances, 9 Super Bowl wins, and an atmosphere of winning. (Well, Tom Coughlin is the oddball here, having Eli "sad dog" Manning and a mostly underachieving bunch of Giants. But the guy has two Super Bowl victories.) Even the "mighty" Pete Carroll couldn't get past Jim Harbaugh early on. Jim Harbaugh managed to coach his team up and win a majority of those games. (The only coach the Jim Harbaugh can't seem to beat is his fucking brother, John Harbaugh. Not only losing to him in the aforementioned Super Bowl, but losing in 2011 on Thanksgiving as well as the first preseason game of 2014.)
So this is the success we are losing, Niner Nation. Instead, we will be left with a bunch of questions. Will we get an offensive minded head coach? If so, will he be tenured or a rookie? Okay, what about Colin Kaepernick and his development? Jim Harbaugh handpicked this kid in the 2011 draft and brought in the now controversial Pistol offense to the 49ers just to show Kaepernick off. Will the next coach keep the Pistol? Keep Kaepernick? There are so many questions to answer, making it even more doubtful that the 49ers will regain their recent luster and success.
I personally have no negative feelings about Jim Harbaugh leaving. Frankly, I believe he is getting screwed over by the once applauded 49ers front office. Something went wrong with this relationship and it doesn't seem like it could've been fixed, even with a winning season. All I know is that the ride is over, crumbling quicker than it should have. I will miss the manic, overly uptight reactions of one Jim Harbaugh on the sideline. I will miss his passion for the game. Most of all, I'll miss any form of winning for the foreseeable future.