All week, Jim Harbaugh had a good feeling about making the jump to the NFL and joining the San Francisco 49ers - just the way his former mentor and late Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh did more than 30 years ago.
Declaring it a “perfect competitive opportunity,” Harbaugh accepted the job as coach of the 49ers on Friday and said his goal is to win a Lombardi Trophy for “one of the legendary franchises in all of football.”
The successful Stanford coach receives a five-year deal and gets to remain right at home in the Bay Area, moving to the NFL after four years with the Cardinal.
A longtime NFL quarterback, he replaces fired coach Mike Singletary. ESPN reported Harbaugh’s deal is for $25 million.
Harbaugh decided to leave Stanford for the pros even though San Francisco has missed the playoffs for eight straight seasons and Orange Bowl MVP quarterback Andrew Luck announced Thursday he would remain at Stanford for another season.
“I can feel the enthusiasm coursing through my veins right now,” said Harbaugh, who was going to team headquarters Friday night to get to work. “I accept this competitive challenge willingly.”
The Cardinal (12-1) finished with a school-record 12 wins after a 40-12 victory over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Monday night. It’s been a whirlwind week to say the least.
Harbaugh has long admired Walsh and how he made the successful leap from Stanford to the 49ers. Harbaugh knew the man nicknamed “The Genius” for 18 years and once received footwork tips from the coach while playing for the Bears.
“Everything that came out of his mind, his heart, his mouth, I hung on every single word,” said Harbaugh, who has a picture of Walsh on his computer.
FISHER STAYING PUT
Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams has decided to keep Jeff Fisher for the 2011 season.
In a statement released by the team, the 88-year-old owner says Fisher has meant a great deal to the team and helped the Titans reach “incredible heights” under his leadership.
The decision comes two days after Adams agreed the Titans needed to part with Vince Young five seasons after he ordered the quarterback drafted.
Fisher is the NFL’s longest-tenured coach, and Adams’ decision means Fisher will be back for a 17th season.
After failing to lure Harbaugh to Miami, the Dolphins gave head coach Tony Sparano a two-year contract extension, through 2013, according to a team source. Bill “Tiger” Johnson, former head coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, died at his home in Fort Myers, Fla., after a long illness, the team announced. He was 84. The Cleveland Browns have interviewed St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for their coaching position. Shurmur met Friday with Browns president Mike Holmgren, who fired Eric Mangini on Monday.