49ers Reaction

Staley details Harbaugh's strenuous final season with 49ers

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It is well-documented that Jim Harbaugh's final season with the 49ers was anything but easy for all parties involved.

After posting an impressive 44-19-1 record in four seasons as San Francisco's head coach from 2011-2014, Harbaugh was told he was fired after a loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15 of his final season, with the move being made official weeks later

Former 49ers left tackle Joe Staley joined the Mojobreak Media podcast on June 29 and discussed Harbaugh's final season with the team and the energy that permeated throughout the facility.

"It was 2014, it was the first season that Levi's opened up and there was so much tension between ownership and Harbaugh. General manager [Trent] Baalke and Harbaugh did not get along, it was known," Staley said. "Harbaugh was going into his fourth year and Harbaugh was an amazing coach, but he also is a unique coach.

"Obviously, his personality rubs people [the wrong way], he's hard to get along with consistently. If you're a Harbaugh guy, you're in his camp and if you're not, you're very against him. That was building over the last two years prior to that. Just looking back on that era of 49ers football, I had never had so many conversations with ownership, with general management, with head coaches about stuff that did not apply to football. It was just like, 'Why am I talking about this? Keep it about football.' That was the situation we were in."

Staley and his 49ers teammates felt early on in training camp that the upcoming 2014 season was not going to be anything like the three previous seasons that resulted in three consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances and a Super Bowl 47 appearance.

San Francisco's 17-7 loss in Seattle in Week 15 was the beginning of the end for Harbaugh with the 49ers. Just one week later, during a 38-35 overtime loss to the then-San Diego Chargers in Week 16, Staley and Harbaugh were seen yelling at one another on the sidelines, which the Pro Bowl left tackle clarified was regarding the inevitable outcome that followed.

"It was a big turning point because we had heard behind the scenes that Harbaugh was gone after the year," Staley shared. "I was a huge Harbaugh fan -- I still am a huge Harbaugh fan -- and I wanted him to be there. So we got into this huge argument on the sidelines. I'm cussing him out, he's cussing me out and I basically was like, 'Fight for your job, man. Like we need you to feel like you're a part of this.' We have a new stadium, an amazing team, I came from four different coaches, I knew the situation and how bad it can be, I didn't want to start that over again at that point in my career.

"From that point on, the season just got worse. We ended up not making the playoffs and he got fired and went to Michigan and then we kind of start over. Exactly what I didn't want to have happen happened. That dark cloud over Levi's Stadium and that transition with ownership, the disconnect there, was 100 percent true and it was real for probably the next three or four years."

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Harbaugh eventually was fired one week after the 2014 season and signed a seven-year, $35 million contract to be the Michigan Wolverines' head coach later that offseason.

The 49ers then cycled through head coaches Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly in 2015 and 2016 before hiring up-and-coming young coach Kyle Shanahan prior to the 2017 season. Harbaugh since has posted a 74-25 record in eight seasons at Michigan while the 49ers have had consistent success under Shanahan.

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