The circumstances are different, but this Jim Harbaugh-49ers divorce brings back memories of Rick Adelman’s exile from the Kings.
In 2006, Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof decided they no longer wanted Adelman as their coach because, well, he just wasn’t their 24-year-old glass of Bordeaux.
The millionaire brothers, still beloved by Kings fans all over town at the time, felt slighted by their no-nonsense coach and wanted a more dynamic figure to be the face of the franchise. Someone like Phil Jackson, who rebuffed their proposition with Adelman still under contract.
So citing the need for a more defensive-minded coach, the Maloofs fired Adelman with one year remaining on his contract after the Kings were eliminated from the playoffs – the eighth consecutive postseason appearance under Adelman. That didn’t seem to to matter to the Maloofs, who probably believed anybody could coach their talented team to the playoffs.
The Maloofs hired Eric Musselman, who was arrested for driving under the influence before he coached the Kings to 33 victories in his only season. The Maloofs hired and fired Reggie Theus and Paul Westphal, and the new ownership already has fired Keith Smart and Michael Malone.
Now the 49ers part ways with Harbaugh, a coach who took the team to the NFC Championship Game in his first three years after San Francisco had failed to reach the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons. Team CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke cited “philosophical differences” with Harbaugh, who probably was just too big of a pain in the khaki pants to deal with.
But Harbaugh won games, just as Adelman did.
It was almost impossible for the Kings to find a better coach than Adelman, and it will be just as difficult for the 49ers to replace Harbaugh.
The Maloofs never said they regretted firing Adelman, the franchise’s winningest coach, but eight consecutive losing seasons speak for themselves.
Time will tell if the 49ers will regret parting ways with the franchise’s best coach since Bill Walsh.
– Victor Contreras
What to do
NBA, Kings at Celtics, 10 a.m., CSNCA: It’s an early start for Kings in Boston.