Confirmed: Harbaugh headed to University of Michigan

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Confirmed: Harbaugh headed to University of Michigan

Coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers are parting ways after four seasons, which included three trips to the NFC Championship game and one Super Bowl appearance.

Harbaugh has accepted a job to become the next coach at the University of Michigan, sources confirmed Saturday evening to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s Dave Feldman.

The New York Times was first to report the official agreement.

Harbaugh and the 49ers are believed to have reached an agreement to allow Harbaugh to leave after four years of his five-year, $25 million contract. He is expected to be on the sideline Sunday when the 49ers finish their season against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium.

Harbaugh is scheduled to be introduced at a press conference Tuesday in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Harbaugh played at Michigan under legendary coach Bo Schembechler from 1982-’86. Recent media reports have placed Harbaugh's contract at six years for as much as $49 million.

Harbaugh, an immensely popular figure for the 49ers’ fan base with his black “SF” fleece and khakis, leaves after returning the organization to prominence. When the 49ers hired Harbaugh in January 2011, the club had not made the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons.

[RELATED: Reports: Michigan reps in Bay Area in pursuit of Harbaugh]

It has been a foregone conclusion for most of the season that Harbaugh would not be back with the 49ers due to irreconcilable personality issues with CEO Jed York, general manager Trent Baalke and team president Paraag Marathe.

In four seasons as 49ers coach, Harbaugh’s teams posted a regular-season record of 43-19-1, entering the season finale Sunday.

“There are a lot of distractions around here -- a lot of distractions,” 49ers tight end Davis told CSNBayArea.com last week. “All season long there were a lot of distractions. But we tried our best to fight through them. Even now, there’s a lot of talk about Harbaugh not being here.”

Speculation that this would be Harbaugh’s final season surrounded the 49ers from the opening week of the season. Amid reports of the 49ers’ eventual parting of ways with Harbaugh, York offered a tepid response via Twitter on October 5, just prior to the home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

York wrote: “Jim is my coach. We are trying to win a SB, not a personality or popularity contest. Any more questions?”

[RELATED: Jim Harbaugh Michigan gear already for sale]

A day later, York said any reports that the 49ers would fire Harbaugh after the season were “categorically not true,” during an interview on "The Rich Eisen Show.”

“We’re focused on getting back to and winning the Super Bowl,” York said. “That’s really the only thing that’s on anybody’s mind here. I’ve said this all along: I would like for nothing else to be in the worst negotiating position possible with Jim.”

But York did not offer any more football-related comments until the closing moments of the 49ers’ 19-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thanksgiving night.

“Thank you #49ersfaithful for coming out strong tonight. This performance wasn't acceptable. I apologize for that,” York wrote.

Harbaugh did not directly address York’s comment, but he made it clear exactly how he felt with York’s choice of words.

“It’s our job to move on without excuse, without apology and get it right. Make it right,” Harbaugh said.

But the 49ers could not get it right.

[RATTO: Harbaugh goes for comfort, what's next for coach?]

The loss on Thanksgiving was the beginning of the longest 49ers losing since Harbaugh became coach. After an embarrassing December 7 loss to the Oakland Raiders, who entered the game with just one victory, the 49ers officially fell out of playoff contention with a 17-7 loss at Seattle.

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Afterward, quarterback Colin Kaepernick said it was strange to hear the rampant talk about Harbaugh coaching his final season with the 49ers.

“That’s something I can’t fully wrap my mind around why that would be the situation,” Kaepernick said. “But he has my full support, no matter if he’s here or somewhere else. I hope he’s back here and I think he’s a great coach.”

Harbaugh came to the 49ers as the organization’s 18th head coach after a wildly successful run at Stanford, where he inherited a one-win team and turned the program around to become a national power.

"It's the perfect competitive challenge," Harbaugh said at his introductory press conference with the 49ers. "I look forward to coaching against John Harbaugh, Bill Belichick and the many great coaches in the NFL. That kind of challenge, I willingly accept it and I look very much forward to it."

Late in the 2012 season, Harbaugh’s 49ers defeated Belichick’s New England Patriots. And he met his brother, John Harbaugh, and the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.

The 49ers rallied from a 28-6 deficit in the third quarter and stood 5 yards from a potential Super Bowl title before three consecutive incomplete passes sent the organization to its first loss in the NFL championship game.

The 49ers made it back to the playoffs in 2013, but were eliminated when Kaepernick’s pass toward Michael Crabtree end the end zone was tipped by Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman and intercepted by linebacker Malcolm Smith with 22 seconds remaining.

York and Harbaugh were unable to work out contract extensions after the past two seasons. Last year, when the Cleveland Browns contacted York about the possibility of swinging a trade for Harbaugh, York called Harbaugh to see if it was something Harbaugh wanted to pursue.

“He wasn’t in the office,” York told Bay Area reporters in March at the NFL owners meeting. “So I talked to him probably an hour after the Browns thing. I called. There was no answer. I texted and said, ‘Hey, give me a ring.’ He was at preschool with (his daughter). ‘Listen, I just want to ask you, was there any interest in your part? This is the phone call I got.’ “

Harbaugh called him back and said, according to York, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“And that was the end of it,” York said.

The sides announced at the beginning of training camp that they would table contract talks until the end of the season – in essence, making this a make-or-break season. But the 49ers struggled on the field and off the field.

Tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone did not take part in the team’s offseason program due to contract issues, prompting Harbaugh to say, “(It’s) not the decision I envision being the 49er way.”

Defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested for alleged domestic violence before the 49ers’ first game. The organization cited “due process” while keeping McDonald active and playing during the investigation. When McDonald was investigated again as a suspect in an alleged sexual assault on Dec. 17, the 49ers released him later that day.

The 49ers experienced an injury-riddled season in which 18 players finished the year on injured reserve, including linebackers Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Chris Borland, and nose tackles Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey, center Daniel Kilgore, tight end Vance McDonald, and first-round draft pick Jimmie Ward.

Harbaugh never talked about his other coaching options, which included the possibility he could remain in the NFL.

“What will happen, will happen,” Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference. “What won’t happen, won’t happen. I work at the pleasure of the organization and I will let them have the floor on that.”  

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”

 

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”