No playoffs for the first time under Jim Harbaugh. The San Francisco 49ers might look completely different by the time next season begins, as it seems their successful head coach is on his way out, which puts even more pressure on Colin Kaepernick to develop into a more consistent and reliable quarterback.
How is a head coach that has gone to one Super Bowl (lost), three NFC Championship game and has a 43-18-1 record in the regular season (5-3 in the playoffs) actually so close to being fired? It has nothing to do with success on the field, with Harbaugh bringing the 49ers to heights they forgot they once belonged to. It has everything to do with him as a person, his bad relationship with the front office and his expectations to be treated and paid like the best head coach in the NFL.
Harbaugh has one more year left on his contract and in the NFL anything can happen. But for over a year rumors have been leaking from 49ers headquarters about dissatisfaction on his side regarding the team not offering him a new contract and how his time with the team is limited. Both Harbaugh and 49ers executives have denied these rumors time after time, but the words keep coming out. Some might say this is just some media spin, but looking at the players on the field and trying to read between the lines makes it seem like there isn’t going to be a place for him on the sidelines in 2015.
Whether Harbaugh actually gets traded to the Jets or the Raiders; maybe he’ll be fired and picked up by someone; or maybe Michigan simply buyout his contract. For the 49ers, it doesn’t matter, but it puts a a lot of pressure on the front office, and especially general manager Trent Baalke, maybe the man who wants Harbaugh out more than anyone else. That front office, for all the changes it underwent, managed to bring 0 success for an entire decade until Harbaugh came along.
Where does Kaepernick fit into all of this? Right now, he’s the franchise quarterback. His contract says so, his resume says so and believe it or not, his ability a lot of the time suggests it too. The problem with Kaepernick is the zero progress that has been made with him as a pocket passer. Running is nice, but every quarterback relying on his legs goes down sooner rather than later. The 49ers might have been able to do some different things with him this season, but their inability to teach him how to read passes better, be more accurate with his throws and other malfunctions in his pocket presence shows a failure of his just as much as it is by the overcrowded coaching staff.
The offensive line has a big part in this as well. Looking back at the 14 games this season, despite the many injuries and suspensions on defense, that part of the team handled its end of the business. The offensive line for various issues; From hurt egos, bodies and contract negotiations, not to mentions simply poor quality compared to past seasons; is more to blame than anyone for the offense looking like a mess, which meant Colin Kaepernick being an easy target for pass rushing schemes.
We might still get to see Jim Harbaugh coaching the San Francisco 49ers beyond the end of the 2014 NFL season. However, everything we’ve seen in the last year or so adds up to one clear conclusion: Harbaugh and those that hired him to bring back the 49ers to the top of the NFL, which he has done very well on three of four seasons, don’t want to be together, which means a new road and era for everyone involved.