FOOTBALL: Niners get their man in Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh led the Stanford Cardinal to a school record 12

Twice during the first 10 minutes of his introductory news
conference as the next San Francisco 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh
relayed the message,

losing is not an option.

He’s right.
Twice during the first 10 minutes of his introductory news conference as the next San Francisco 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh relayed the message “losing is not an option.”

He’s right.

The former Stanford University head coach and the Niners agreed to a reported five-year, $25 million contract Friday afternoon, putting into motion the necessary steps toward rebuilding the storied franchise.

Changes needed to be made. And the San Francisco 49ers are addressing each piece one-by-one.

Team President and CEO Jed York and newly hired General Manager Trent Baalke introduced Harbaugh as the team’s next head man, brimming with confidence because they landed their guy, but also cautious of the work ahead.

“I accept this competitive challenge, willingly, and look very much forward to it,” Harbaugh said. “This is the perfect competitive opportunity for me and the rest of the San Francisco organization to be a part of a team, a team that has a chance to win.”

And that’s why Baalke and the Niners made the absolute best choice in hiring Harbaugh to right the ship, which has been slowly sinking over the last decade.

“We have to bring back the culture of winning,” Baalke said, sitting next to the man he selected.

In a whirlwind week, Harbaugh, who led the Cardinal to a convincing 40-12 Orange Bowl victory Monday night, met with team officials Wednesday before being courted briefly by the Miami Dolphins.

Harbaugh did not specify what talks he had with other professional teams but repeatedly said he felt fortunate to have the interest of college and professional organizations, which included his alma mater Michigan.

It was reported that Harbaugh met with Stanford brass Thursday to discuss his return to the Cardinal.

Ultimately, Harbaugh decided to make the leap to the NFL.

“I have unshakable confidence and great faith in human beings and their desire to be part of a team and part of something great,” Harbaugh said. “I can feel the enthusiasm coursing through my veins right now.”

In his four seasons at Stanford, Harbaugh revitalized a team that finished 1-11 prior to his arrival. And in four seasons turned the Cardinal into one of the nation’s most balanced teams, culminating with a school-record 12 wins in 2010.

Among topics Harbaugh and Baalke discussed was who would have final say over the 53-man roster. Baalke assumes that power.

Also up in the air is whether or not Harbaugh will bring with him members of his Stanford staff, including defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, whose defense finished the season 10th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 17.4 points per game.

Harbaugh did not discuss names.

“There’s guys off of our Stanford staff that I’d love to bring to the San Francisco 49ers,” Harbaugh said. “There’s also excellent coaches on the 49ers. I look forward to talking to those men, who have done, along with their families, a great job for the organization. Looking forward to sitting down with each of those men and talking football with them and letting them hear my vision, my plan and hearing theirs. Together we will put together a great staff.”

Harbaugh said he would install the West Coast Offense, in “the birth place” of said philosophy, mentioning he has a picture of former Niners head coach Bill Walsh on his computer that he looks at every day.

Harbaugh played for five teams, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers and Carolina Panthers, during his 15-year career.

Prior to his arrival on The Farm, Harbaugh coached the University of San Diego to a 29-6 record over three seasons, which encompasses two Division I-AA Mid Major national titles in 2005 and 2006.

Harbaugh spent one season with the Oakland Raiders as an offensive assistant in 2002-03.

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