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How Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers plummeted from the cusp of Super Bowl glory to rock bottom

Not even Shakespeare could dream up something this tragic.

The San Francisco 49ers were so bad for nearly a decade throughout the 2000s. Then, CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke miraculously landed the hottest coaching commodity out there: Jim Harbaugh.

The Niners beat out Stanford, where he’d just led the Cardinal to its first-ever BCS Bowl win, Michigan, his alma mater where he starred at quarterback in the ‘80s, and the Miami Dolphins, who, well, still had a head coach in place.

Then an NFL lockout basically wiped out Harbaugh’s entire first offseason with the team, putting first-year coaches way behind the eight ball as they had extremely limited time with their team before the season kicked off. Yet Harbaugh took that squad that had long been an NFL bottom feeder and overnight turned them into Goliath.

For three seasons they soared majestically atop the football universe, but came up just short of securing the franchise’s sixth Lombardi Trophy each time.

Despite injecting a ton of winning into an organization that had long been starving for mere competence, management decided to fix what was the furthest thing from broken — and because of their pride and ego, they sent the entire operation into an uncontrollable tailspin.