February 23, 2017
Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh won an NFC championship as coach of the San Francisco 49ers, but he thinks he should have been given a medal as well.
Harbaugh appeared on the Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami’s podcast Thursday and talked about how he endured under the front office (h/t Kevin Jones of KNBR): “I think we did set a record for coaching there the longest under the present ownership. I take pride in that. Maybe there should be an endurance medal, a courage medal, for that.”
Jones noted Harbaugh’s 44-19-1 record with San Francisco represented the fourth-best start to an NFL coaching career. It was the high point in an otherwise bleak tenure for 49ers CEO Jed York, who has since hired and fired Chip Kelly and Jim Tomsula.
San Francisco has gone through four head coaches since York assumed the role of team president in December 2008, and just two of them made it more than a single season.
On the podcast, Harbaugh said he hasn’t talked to York since leaving San Francisco following the 2014 campaign. Doug Williams of NBC Bay Area said the team is still haunted by York’s decision to back then-general manager Trent Baalke “in a battle” with Harbaugh.
While the team has gone 7-25 since Harbaugh left, it did lead to Baalke’s firing and the hiring of general manager John Lynch. Harbaugh was supportive of that move on the podcast.
“I would love to work for John Lynch,” Harbaugh said. “When they were going through the process of the hiring, he didn’t want his name mentioned. I don’t know if a lot of people noticed that, but I think that’s a profound thing. That speaks volumes for who he is as a person.”
Ultimately, Harbaugh looks like the winner in the trio of Baalke, himself and York. He reached a Super Bowl and three NFC Championship Games during his tenure with San Francisco, and the last time the 49ers enjoyed a winning season without him on the sidelines was in 2002.
Baalke is now fired, York’s 49ers are rebuilding following a 2-14 season and Harbaugh led his alma mater Michigan to a 10-3 record in each of the last two years after it reached double-digit wins just once from 2007 to 2014.