Two members of the San Francisco 49ers staff and a third NFL source said Saturday they expect 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh to accept a six-year, $48 million contract to become the head coach of the University of Michigan.
"That's what everybody on staff believes is going to happen this week," one of the sources said. "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."
|Jim Harbaugh coaching record|
|2004||University of San Diego||7-4|
|2005||University of San Diego||11-1|
|2006||University of San Diego||11-1|
There have been multiple reports out of Michigan in recent days that Harbaugh will join his alma mater. In addition, he is expected to bring several coaches from the 49ers with him, including longtime assistants Reggie Davis and John Morton, according to sources.
Harbaugh's agent, David Dunn, did not respond to a text regarding the matter.
While there remains a chance that Harbaugh will listen to overtures from the Oakland Raiders and other NFL teams, he is scheduled to meet with Michigan officials shortly after the 49ers conclude their season Sunday against Arizona. Interim Michigan athletic director Jim Hackett is part of a contingent from the school already in California waiting to talk to Harbaugh, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.
Any interest from NFL teams is complicated by the fact that the 49ers would have to give permission to speak to Harbaugh until the point that he's let go by the team. San Francisco considered trading Harbaugh a year ago and is now unlikely to get anything for him.
Harbaugh was the head coach at the University of San Diego and Stanford prior to making the jump to the NFL. Sources said that previously, he was strongly leaning against going back to the college ranks because he dislikes the rigors of recruiting and dealing with alumni. However, sources said he has been swayed over the past two weeks as he measured those issues against the opportunities that might be available around the pros.
Oakland, the New York Jets, Chicago and possibly Atlanta are the spots most often mentioned as being open at the end of the NFL season. Of those, sources said Harbaugh has questions about the ownership situations with the Raiders and Jets and doesn't believe that Chicago will meet his financial demands.
As for Atlanta, it's unclear if the Falcons will keep or fire current head coach Mike Smith. The Falcons play Carolina on Sunday with the NFC South title and a playoff spot on the line.
Jason Cole covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.