49ers' Top 5 moments of 2014
Year in review
It's a wild time to be a 49ers fan. As 2014 comes to a close, Insider Matt Maiocco looks back and highlights the five biggest 49ers moments of the calendar year...
No. 5: Chilling victory in Green Bay
It was the quintessential Lambeau Field day for a playoff game. It was 5 degrees with a wind-chill of minus-10 degrees at kickoff. The 49ers’ defense held Aaron Rodgers to just 177 yards passing. And Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal as time expired provided the 49ers with a 23-20 victory in the wild-card playoff game. Colin Kaepernick outplayed Rodgers, as he threw for 227 yards and rushed for 98 yards. -- Matt Maiocco
Kaepernick signs big-money deal
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers agreed to a $115 million deal in June that locked him up through the 2020 season. But when details of the new pact surfaced, it was revealed that there were really few assurances for Kaepernick beyond the upcoming season. The contract included $12.328 million in full guarantees, and is essentially a pay-as-you-go arrangement. Kaepernick said that’s the structure he wanted in order to give the 49ers flexibility to spend money to keep their roster together. On the field, however, Kaepernick did not take the next step. The 49ers' offensive line struggled, and Kaepernick's production slid for an offense that ranked 30th in the NFL in passing yards. -- Matt Maiocco
Opening of Levi’s Stadium
After 43 seasons at Candlestick Park, the 49ers moved into $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell attended the July ribbon-cutting ceremony. Coach Jim Harbaugh showed up late, wearing his trademark khakis and black fleece, after holding an offseason workout for rookies. Most of the headlines in Year 1 at their new home dealt with traffic concerns and turf issues. On the field, the 49ers were 4-4 at Levi’s Stadium in Year 1 at their new home in the South Bay. -- Matt Maiocco
Final hope fades
The 49ers came within six inches of a return trip to the Super Bowl. But cornerback Richard Sherman made a leaping deflection of a Colin Kaepernick pass in the end zone intended for Michael Crabtree. Linebacker Malcolm Smith secured the interception, and the Seahawks held on for a 23-17 victory in the NFC Championship. The Seahawks were not even tested in the Super Bowl, as they blasted the Denver Broncos in a 43-8 victory. -- Matt Maiocco
Harbaugh’s final stand
The end came swiftly, as shortly after Jim Harbaugh stepped off the podium following the 49ers' season-ending victory over the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium, the 49ers sent out a press release that described a "mutual parting." Harbaugh was gone, having already agreed to move on to the University of Michigan for his next turnaround project. Harbaugh's return as 49ers coach in 2015 was considered unlikely all along. CEO Jed York fielded a call from the Cleveland Browns after last season to inquire about a potential trade for Harbaugh. York called Harbaugh to ask if he was interested. Harbaugh said no. But the 49ers and Harbaugh made no progress on a contract extension, setting up a make-or-break season. The 49ers streak of three consecutive trips to the NFC Championship came to an end. York said there were "philosophical discussions" that prompted the 49ers and Harbaugh to split. Harbaugh was 44-19-1 in four seasons. His .698 win percentage ranks fifth in NFL history. Including playoffs, Harbaugh won 49 games in his brief 49ers career.