Former San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh believes that team management in San Francisco made the decision to move on to a new coach without him, the new Michigan head coach told the San Jose Mercury News on Friday.
Harbaugh's departure from the 49ers was announced shortly after his final press conference as coach, which came after the team's 20-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in San Francisco's final game of the season. According to a statement from team CEO Jed York revealing the decision, the 49ers and Harbaugh had "mutually agreed to part ways."
Speaking on Friday with the Mercury News' Tim Kawakami, Harbaugh cast doubt on York's description of the decision.
"Kawakami: There's been so much comment from Jed York that it was a mutual separation between you and the team, that you mutually agreed you wouldn't be the coach. Is that true? Or were you told that you wouldn't be the coach any more?
Harbaugh: Yes, I was told I wouldn't be the coach anymore. You can call it 'mutual,' I mean, I wasn't going to put the 49ers in the position to have a coach that they didn't want any more."
"But that's the truth of it. I didn't leave the 49ers. I felt like the 49er hierarchy left me."
Harbaugh also said that he was made aware that he would not be returning to the 49ers as coach after the team's Dec. 14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Harbaugh said he elected to stay with the team at that point and coach in the season's final two games.
The Michigan coach avoided questions about tensions among team staff and with assistant coach Jim Tomsula, who ultimately replaced Harbaugh as head coach, saying only that people in the organization were aware "something's going on."
Harbaugh added that despite the nature of his exit he would never "...forget the players, the loyal coaches and the memories," that he had as a part of the 49ers organization. The coach also broached the possibility of describing his final days in San Francisco at more length.
"I don't [team management and I] were playing out of the same playbook," Harbaugh said. "But maybe there'll be a book some day. Maybe I'll write a manuscript..."
Harbaugh went 44-19 in four seasons in San Francisco, going 8-8 in his final season with the team. He led the 49ers to an NFC Championship during the 2012 season.
On Dec. 29, just a day after his departure from San Francisco was announced, it was revealed that Harbaugh would become head coach at Michigan, his alma mater.