h has agreed to a five-year deal to become coach of the 49ers. The news was first reported by ESPN
insider Adam Schefter
. Harbaugh will get $25 million.
The decision ends a week-long round of very intense speculation that reach circus-like levels.
As Profootballtalk.com recounted it: "First Michigan was supposedly the favorite to land Harbaugh, then the 49ers, then the Dolphins, and then Stanford again. Perhaps Harbaugh wanted to stay near home all along and was just trying build leverage and use the media as best he and his agent knew how. ..."
Whatever the case, as ESPN's John Clayton suggested, Harbaugh almost made Brett Favre look decisive.
As the Associated Press notes, he decided to make the jump to the pros even though San Francisco has missed the playoffs for eight straight seasons and Orange Bowl MVP quarterback Andrew Luck decided to remain at Stanford for another season.
Harbaugh long admired the late Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, one of his mentors, and how Walsh made the successful leap from Stanford to the 49ers.
Now, he must turn around a once-proud franchise that is desperate to become a contender again right away. The 49ers were picked to win the NFC West this season, then began 0-5 for their worst start since losing seven straight to begin a 2-14 season in 1979—Walsh’s first year as coach.
Niners team president and CEO Jed York said when Mike Singletary was fired that money would be no object in finding the team’s next coach. He promoted vice president of player personnel Trent Baalke to general manager earlier this week, then they worked together to make their push for Harbaugh.
The 47-year-old Harbaugh went 58-27 overall as a college coach and 29-21 in four seasons at Stanford. He took over a 1-11 team when he was hired in December 2006 and quickly turned the program back into a winner and bowl contender.
The Cardinal went 4-8 in his first season, 5-7 the next, then improved to 8-5 and earned a Sun Bowl berth in 2009—the school’s first bowl appearance since 2001.
Harbaugh was the Oakland Raiders’ quarterbacks coach from 2002-03 before spending three seasons as head coach at the University of San Diego.
Harbaugh is a former NFL quarterback whose brother, John Harbaugh, coaches the Baltimore Ravens.
Jim Harbaugh, a college star at Michigan, played 15 seasons in the NFL for the Bears, Colts, Ravens, Chargers and Panthers. A first-round draft pick taken 26th overall by Chicago in 1987, Harbaugh completed 2,305 of 3,918 passes for 26,288 career yards and 129 touchdowns in the NFL. He also ran for 18 TDs.
Is he ready to make the leap from college to pro?
According to ESPN college football analyst and former NFL quarterback Brock Huard, who worked two Stanford games this past season and followed the Pac-10 closely even before his days as a quarterback at the University of Washington in the 1990s, the answer is yes.
"I think hiring Jim Harbaugh is a home run in every way for the 49ers," Huard said.
Asked about Harbaugh's offensive scheme, Huard replied, "Harbaugh likes the power run game, be physical, hit you in the mouth. The 49ers drafted two big linemen and they have a sledgehammer back when healthy. Many of the pieces schematically are in hand, unlike what he would have encountered at Michigan or other places.
"San Francisco will fit him really well personnel-wise, minus the quarterback."
Huard also extolled Harbaugh's understanding of the Xs and Os.
"One of his graduate assistants is a guy I played with in Indy, Aaron Moorehead, the receiver," Huard explained. "He said that they were doing things at the college level that a) you never imagined you could do at the NFL level and b) his depth of knowledge on Xs and Os is incredible."
A rival college coach told Huard his team studied Stanford's running game and charted running plays from 30 different personnel groups and formations.
Whatever the case, as PFT suggested, in the wake of such a high-profile pursuit, "Harbaugh has to show he was worth all the hype and the money.
"If not, maybe he’ll be in position to take his buddy Luck in April of 2012."