Harbaugh was wildly successful during his first three seasons in the Bay Area, leading the 49ers to three consecutive NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance but the team struggled last season en route to an 8-8 record.
Rumours of Harbaugh???s impending departure began to swirl early in the season as a rift developed between the 51-year-old and the 49ers hierarchy.
When Harbaugh did leave San Francisco after a 20-17 win against the Arizona Cardinals on December 28, the split was described as ???mutual??? but Harbaugh has now revealed that was far from the case.
“I was told I wouldn’t be the coach anymore,” Harbaugh said, speaking to the San Jose Mercury News.
“And then … 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 anymore.
“But that’s the truth of it. I didn’t leave the 49ers. I felt like the 49er hierarchy left me.???
Harbaugh???s recollection of his departure contradicts the statement the team issued at the time.
San Francisco owner Jed York said in that statement: “Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions.
“We thank Jim for bringing a tremendous competitive nature and a great passion for the game to the 49ers.
???He and his staff restored a winning culture that has been the standard for our franchise throughout its history.
???Their commitment and hard work resulted in a period of success that should be looked back on proudly by our organization and our fans. We wish Jim and his family all the best.”
According to Harbaugh, the final weeks in San Francisco were a bit awkward as rumours swirled that defensive line coach Jim Tomsula would be his eventual replacement.
“I wasn’t reading anything that was on the Internet,??? Harbaugh said.
???I was really focused on doing my job, but definitely walk down the halls and people look away or they look at you and you know something’s going on.???
The 49ers ended up hiring Tomsula on January 14; two weeks after Harbaugh accepted the head coaching role at the University of Michigan, his alma mater.
Harbaugh received plenty of interest from other NFL teams after he left the 49ers, but he said he made his mind up quickly to return to the college where he starred as a quarterback from 1983 ??? 1986.
“I really didn’t look at any other situation,” Harbaugh said. “I didn’t do a pros and cons list or anything. It was just a decision I made from the heart and that was it.
“I was going to go to Michigan.”