Unless there aren’t any surprises, the firing of Jim Harbaugh by the San Francisco 49ers (more like mutual parting of ways actually) paves way for the head coach to take over the same position at Michigan, with an announcement coming very soon.
Following an 8-8 season and missing the playoffs for the first time since taking over the job, Harbaugh and his bosses didn’t wait too long to settle things and move on in different directions. The decision to part ways has been made a very long time ago, but actually making it quite clear while the team was winning made no sense. After 12 weeks, with the 49ers going on a 7-4 start, it still felt as if Harbaugh was going nowhere.
But the 49ers lost four of their last five. Colin Kaepernick looked bad most of the time or was used in the wrong way. The Seattle Seahawks crushed them in two meetings and even the defense that held this team together for most of the season despite injury and suspension problems stopped being as effective. In short, it seemed like the offseason predictions that Harbaugh wasn’t going to last more than one year were true and started fulfilling themselves.
Rumors suggest that Harbaugh and Michigan officials have already agreed that he’s coming to Ann Arbor, and reps from the university flew out to the Bay Area in order to take Harbaugh and his family with them, ahead of the big announcement. Right now no one is saying anything but the cordial things: The 49ers front office thanking Harbaugh for his work and ability to bring back the winning culture to the franchise, Harbaugh praising the players, staff and fans. Not a word about his bosses which he couldn’t stand working with, especially general manager Trent Baalke.
So while the 49ers will now start scouring a very unimpressive coaching market (coordinators and former assistants are always a risky thing to gamble on) from a first glance, Harbaugh is likely to become the highest paid coach in football at $8.17 million a season with Michigan, hoping to rebuild a program that has fallen on some hard times in recent years, not even making a bowl game this season and forgetting what it feels like to be mentioned in national title discussions.
Harbaugh has just one really impressive season with a major football program but he set the foundations for future success at Stanford. His head coaching resume in the NFL is another thing, with three NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance, although the season always ended in a loss for him. Michigan are hoping that all of that comes together in the right way and hopefully quickly as they finally got the man they actually wanted right from the start this time, which means failure is something they can’t even imagine happening.