San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is expected to be named the next head coach of Michigan, according to multiple reports. There has been no official announcement from Harbaugh or the Wolverines, though an announcement could be made as early as Monday during the NFL's "Black Monday."
There has been speculation of Harbaugh taking the Michigan job almost since the firing of Brady Hoke on Dec. 2. More substantiated reports began to trickle out Saturday from both longtime NFL writer Jason Cole, as well as respected and best-selling author John U. Bacon, a Michigan alum, that Harbaugh would return to Ann Arbor, where he played quarterback in the 1980s.
I just got off the phone with more sources tonight. It's done. Jim Harbaugh is coming to Michigan - and his friends are flying in Monday.
â€” John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 28, 2014
How do I know this? From his friends who are flying in.
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 28, 2014
Cole’s story cited two members of the 49ers staff and a third unknown source who “expect” Harbaugh to agree to Michigan’s initial contract offer of $48 million over six years.
"That's what everybody on staff believes is going to happen this week," a source told Cole. "Jim has figured out that his style is best-suited for the college game. His shtick works better with young guys who are gone after three or four years."
The 50-year-old coach has toiled with the idea of either staying in the NFL, or heading back to the college ranks to help his alma mater regain the luster its lost over the last seven years.
There was also a reported confirmation from CSN Bay Area and 49ers pre-game radio host Dave Feldman, who went to high school with Harbaugh. Feldman posted on Twitter that a press conference will be held Tuesday.
Harbaugh is expected to coach the 49ers in their regular season finale against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. San Francisco enters the game with a 7-8 record, and after being eliminated from playoff contention in the competitive NFC West with four straight losses.
One report indicates that no deal has been finalized. NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport tweeted early Sunday that Harbaugh has deflected questions from friends about the Michigan job, and that while Wolverines officials are expected to meet with him, the Oakland Raiders could still be an option.
Earlier this season, Oakland and the New York Jets were two teams linked to a trade for Harbaugh. Both teams are expected to be in the market for a head coach on Monday.
Over the last four seasons, Harbaugh’s guided the 49ers to a 43-19-1 record with three trips to the NFC championship game and nearly one Super Bowl victory. Each year he helped mold some of the most talented young defensive players into some of the best at their position. It’s that kind of development ability that Michigan likely expects Harbaugh to bring following the struggles under Hoke, who had a 31-20 record in four seasons.
Harbaugh's tenure in San Francisco, and perhaps the NFL entirely, will be cut short because of a perceived feud and personality clash with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. Harbaugh is known for his animated reactions and wild gesticulations on the sidelines when a call hasn’t gone the 49ers way, and that kind of behavior has possibly spilled into the locker room and front office.
Harbaugh’s last and only run in Division I college football was another rebuilding job. In 2007, he was hired by Stanford, and every year the Cardinal’s record improved until a 12-1 run and trip to the Orange Bowl in 2010. During his tenure at Stanford, Harbaugh also displayed an excellent eye and talent for recruiting. It was Harbaugh and his Stanford staff that convinced current Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck to come to Palo Alto.