Harbaugh likely will be grooming a new quarterback in the coming months. Alex Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick out of Utah, becomes a free agent. So, finding a QB is high on the team's to-do list heading into what should be a busy offseason.
Once the season begins, Harbaugh will face a familiar foe — big brother John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens. Jim Harbaugh won't be attending his brother's playoff game in Kansas City this weekend after all.
"Let me tell you guys out in San Francisco, you got a great one," John Harbaugh said. "I'm very happy he's not in the AFC. We'll see him once every four years and Super Bowls — hopefully we could get a couple of those. ... I got a feeling you'll see two pretty similarly built football teams."
Niners team president and CEO Jed York said when Singletary was fired that money would be no object in finding the team's next coach. He promoted vice president of player personnel Baalke to GM earlier this week, then they worked together to make their push for Harbaugh, who also was in talks with the Miami Dolphins and Stanford.
The 49ers didn't put him on a deadline, telling Harbaugh, "There can't be any doubt in your mind," York said. Harbaugh asked for Thursday night to "sleep on it," then signed his deal Friday. He also informed Luck and his players at Stanford.
Harbaugh insists this move wasn't all about money. He reportedly had an offer for more from Miami.
"It wasn't the factor. I like a buck just like the next guy, but I love coaching and I love winning and I love football," he said. "The factor that dictated my being here was that Trent and Jed and the 49er organization wanted me to be here and I wanted to be here as much or more than they wanted me. Here I am."
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.
His next challenge will be getting San Francisco back to the playoffs.
"It's the process of building a team, being part of a team and leading a team, and working at it," Harbaugh said. "It's committing a lot of energy to it. There are definitely similarities."
Harbaugh was the Oakland Raiders' quarterbacks coach from 2002-03 before spending three seasons as head coach at the University of San Diego. He said he recently spoke to Raiders owner Al Davis, but not specifically about the now-vacant Oakland coaching job.
Harbaugh, a college star at Michigan where there also is a coaching vacancy after the firing of Rich Rodriguez, 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.
For York and the front office, landing Harbaugh was the first goal.
"This is a very happy day but our work didn't end today," York said. "It just begins today."
"Losing is not an option," Harbaugh said.
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