By Matt Furtado/KHTK Sports 1140

The Year of Harbaugh:

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For the past four seasons, everything has been about Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.

The first three years of his tenure in San Francisco, he had the team playing at Super Bowl level.

He was a star among the 49er faithful.

But as many people know, Harbaugh has a tendency to ruffle some feathers, and that seemingly led him to his exit from the team on Sunday.

It’s hard to review the 49ers year without it completely being about Harbaugh.

At the start of 2014, which would be last season’s playoffs, the Niners were on the verge of making it to a second straight Super Bowl.

But a loss to Harbaugh’s long time coaching rival, Pete Carroll, and the Seattle Seahawks began the start of a tailspin downwards for the Niners and Harbaugh.

One would think that the year the Niners open a new stadium in Santa Clara, the offseason would be filled with excitement and anticipation for the upcoming season.

But there wasn’t much excitement. Just speculation.

Speculation over how long Harbaugh was going to last in San Francisco.

His shaky relationship with General Manager Trent Baalke was well documented. In fact, there was even speculation that Baalke tried shipping Harbaugh out to the Cleveland Browns.

Harbaugh is a very controlling coach. He wants to have full say in his team, and most likely, didn’t react well to getting advice or having control taken away by anyone like Baalke, or even the CEO, Jed York.

As this past season began, the Niners were not at full strength. With the nine game suspension of Aldon Smith, and the injury of Navarro Bowman, the team’s defense was missing some key pieces.

Along with the injuries, and Colin Kaepernick’s worst season behind center in his short career, the team hovered around mediocre.

The Niners just couldn’t score enough points.

There is plenty of blame to go around. The team’s offensive line performed poorly, most likely because they also had a lot of injuries, as well.

But in a league that is so quarterback driven, the number one reason why they were not able to score runs, has to be because of Kaepernick’s awful play.

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At times, it looked as if Kaepernick didn’t have the ability to read a team’s defense. On pass plays, he looked dazed and confused, often times just launching it to the first read, or tucking and running, usually resulting in a sack.

Again, this could also be brought right back to Harbaugh.

Since Harbaugh signed on as the Niners head coach four seasons ago, the team was known more for their exotic run game. They had the most unique formations and run plays in the league.

But this year the team got away from that. Harbaugh let the team get away from its identity. Kaepernick is not a pocket passer, nor will he ever be, and to try to attempt to change him into one is a mistake.

Throughout the season, rumors spread that Harbaugh lost control of the locker room. Every season Harbaugh has been with the Niners, there were players getting into legal trouble.

This season it was Ray McDonald, who was allegedly connected to a sexual assault case. He played in all but two games for the Niners before being let go by the team before the week 17 game, when they were already eliminated from playoff contention.

With all of the injuries, legal problems, suspensions, and the downfall of Harbaugh and the Niners, the team finished at 8-8.

Immediately after the game Sunday, the Niners and Harbaugh “mutually parted ways.”

What to expect in 2015:

The 49ers obviously need to find a new coach. Whether they look from within to a guy like Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman or Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio is unclear so far.

If they want to get someone from outside the organization, they will have some competition with the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, and Atlanta Falcons, which all fired head coaches on Monday.

The team isn’t going to need a full rebuild, so whoever they bring in to coach will be in a very good position to win immediately.

Patrick Willis and Bowman will come back from injuries in 2015. Which leads to another issue: they have a lot of very good linebackers.

It’s a great issue to have, but they are going to have to trade at least one of them. Ahmad Brooks has showed some disappointment in the playing time among the linebackers, so look for him to be the likely candidate to be traded.

The biggest issue for the team, though, is figuring out a way to harness Kaepernick’s potential.

Whoever the coach is next season needs to realize that the man is not a traditional quarterback.

The team needs to get back to its identity: the run game.

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It’s going to be a very long offseason, but it will definitely be filled with news.