San Francisco 49ers

Trent Baalke unwilling to discuss Jim Harbaugh

Michigan head coach John Beilein, left, sits next to new Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh, center, in the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Michigan State at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.
Michigan head coach John Beilein, left, sits next to new Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh, center, in the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Michigan State at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. AP

Jim Harbaugh was recently receptive to rehashing the details of his departure from the 49ers. Trent Baalke was decidedly less so.

The 49ers general manager used the phrase “moved on” five times in a 14-minute news conference Wednesday when asked about Harbaugh’s December exit.

“Once again, he’s moved on, we’ve moved on and I think the important thing for us now is just to look forward and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Baalke said. “We’ve got three important things happening here coming up and I know that’s where my focus is.”

After guiding the 49ers at least as far as the NFC Championship Game in his first three seasons, Harbaugh’s squad went 8-8 in 2014. A few days after the season finale, he was named the coach at the University of Michigan.

The 49ers have insisted the parting was mutual, but Harbaugh said last week he was told after a Week 15 loss to the Seattle Seahawks that he wouldn’t coach the team in 2015. Harbaugh had one more year remaining on his contract.

“You can call it mutual. I mean, I wasn’t going to put the 49ers in a position to have a coach they didn’t want anymore,” Harbaugh told the San Jose Mercury News in a half-hour podcast. “... That’s the truth of it – I didn’t leave the 49ers. I felt like the 49er hierarchy left me.”

The Mercury News also reported that when it came to replacing Harbaugh, the 49ers initially set their sights on then-Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, but Gase balked when the 49ers insisted he make Jim Tomsula the defensive coordinator.

“I didn’t read the reports, so I’m not real familiar with what you’re talking about,” Baalke said. “But the job for the 49ers was offered to one person and one person only, and that’s Jim Tomsula.”

Et cetera – Baalke declined to say whether the 49ers were interested in free-agent quarterback Josh McCown, 35, who spent a part of the 2011 training camp with San Francisco.

McCown, who was Tampa Bay’s starter last year, has a long-standing relationship with 49ers offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, who was with Arizona when the Cardinals drafted McCown in 2002. The 49ers have just one quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, under contract for 2015.

▪ Only a few of Tomsula’s coaches will be in Indianapolis this week to help the coach evaluate players. The group includes Chryst and defensive coordinator Eric Mangini.

▪ It seems as if the 49ers are committed to paying Aldon Smith’s $9.75 million salary for 2015. They can opt out of it by March 10, but the team’s outside linebacker apparently hasn’t lapsed or caused the 49ers to re-think their commitment.

“A lot of people haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Aldon,” Baalke said of Smith. “A great young man. He’s had some off-the-field adversity, some personal adversity that he’s trying to deal with and is dealing with. But if you’ve ever had an opportunity to meet him, I think you’d feel how most of us feel, (that he’s) a tremendous young man.”

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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