Former San Francisco 49ers, and current Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday that the only thing mutual about his departure from San Francisco was the fact that he didn't fight the decision. Harbaugh, on a podcast with Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, talked about his exit from the NFL, which the 49ers claimed was a mutual parting of ways following the conclusion of the team's 8-8 season.
"I didn't leave the 49ers. The 49ers hierarchy left me," Harbaugh said during the 30-minute interview. He said that he didn't want to put the 49ers in a bad spot, which is why the parting of ways was technically mutual. He also went on to confirm that he was told that he would be let go at the end of the season following a loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15.
That loss eliminated the 49ers from the playoffs. Harbaugh went on to coach two more games while being the boss of the guy who would eventually take over, current head coach and then-defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. During the interview, Harbaugh said there were some awkward moments around Jim Tomsula near the end of his tenure with the team.
The other big shocker of the interview is that Harbaugh said that he didn't consider coaching for any other NFL teams, despite reports of multiple organizations being after his services following his ousting. "That was it, I was going to Michigan," he said.
The interview is a fascinating listen for anybody, and probably a frustrating one for 49ers fans. 49ers owner Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke have insisted that this was a mutual parting, almost hammering home the idea that nothing could pry Harbaugh away from returning to Michigan to coach there.
It also begs the question of whether the 49ers really conducted much of a head coaching search, if things between Harbaugh and Tomsula were awkward during the final weeks of the season. If Tomsula knew at that point that he was going to get the job, then what of the various interviews the 49ers conducted with top candidates after the season?