Vernon Davis Opens Up About the 49ers Parting Ways with Jim Harbaugh

A decade later, it's still hard to understand why the Jim Harbaugh Era of the 49ers lasted just four seasons.
October 30, 2011; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh (right) celebrates with tight end Vernon Davis (85) after a touchdown during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
October 30, 2011; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh (right) celebrates with tight end Vernon Davis (85) after a touchdown during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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A decade later, it's still hard to understand why the Jim Harbaugh Era of the 49ers lasted just four seasons.

He became the head coach in 2011, immediately took the team to three straight NFC Championships and a Super Bowl, then had one season in which he had a .500 record and the 49ers got rid of him. Or he left. One or the other.

Today, I asked Vernon Davis what happened between the 49ers and Harbaugh. Here's what Davis said.

DAVIS: "I know the nature of the business. It doesn't surprise me. I knew that you have a coach in Jim Harbaugh who loves control. He's a businessman. He wants 51 percent. He wants to be able to call his shots. He wanted a certain thing that the organization didn't, and so it ran its course. That's what happens. I don't know the details of what was going on at that level. But for me, if I had a coach who came in, turned the program around, did exactly what we needed, I'm betting on that guy. I'm riding with this dude. So I'm going to give him what he wants if I can. If I can't, I'll meet him halfway. Maybe Harbaugh didn't like meeting halfway. But we don't know the specifics. That's what happened there."

ME: Isn't it interesting how your career with the 49ers went full circle? You were drafted to a rebuilding team. Mike Singletary comes in and teaches you how to be a team. Harbaugh comes in and teaches you guys how to win. And then it all blows up and you're back where you started, rebuilding. Interesting how quickly that happens.

DAVIS: "It happens fast. That's why you have to enjoy the ride and do as much as you can in that amount of time."


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Grant Cohn

GRANT COHN

Grant Cohn has covered the San Francisco 49ers daily since 2011. He spent the first nine years of his career with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat where he wrote the Inside the 49ers blog and covered famous coaches and athletes such as Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick and Patrick Willis. In 2012, Inside the 49ers won Sports Blog of the Year from the Peninsula Press Club. In 2020, Cohn joined FanNation and began writing All49ers. In addition, he created a YouTube channel which has become the go-to place on YouTube to consume 49ers content. Cohn's channel typically generates roughly 3.5 million viewers per month, while the 49ers' official YouTube channel generates roughly 1.5 million viewers per month. Cohn live streams almost every day and posts videos hourly during the football season. Cohn is committed to asking the questions that 49ers fans want answered, and providing the most honest and interactive coverage in the country. His loyalty is to the reader and the viewer, not the team or any player or coach. Cohn is a new-age multimedia journalist with an old-school mentality, because his father is Lowell Cohn, the legendary sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle from 1979 to 1993. The two have a live podcast every Tuesday. Grant Cohn grew up in Oakland and studied English Literature at UCLA from 2006 to 2010. He currently lives in Oakland with his wife.