At long last, the 49ers got a meaningful win.
Five days after concluding its eighth straight non-winning season, San Francisco reportedly won a high-stakes pursuit for Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh today. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Harbaugh has agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal with the Niners.
Schefter broke the news via Twitter at 12:36 p.m. today. Seven minutes later, the 49ers announced they will hold a press conference at 3:30 p.m. today at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
In the end, the wild two-college, three-NFL-team competition for the coach’s services came down to a Bay Area battle between the Niners and Stanford. And Harbaugh chose San Francisco over the status quo.
He also chose less money to sign with the Niners, who offered about $3 million less per season than the Dolphins, who fell out of the running Thursday night.
The hiring of the offensive-minded former NFL quarterback, it is hoped, will enliven an offense which hasn’t ranked higher than 23rd in the NFL since 2004. The 49ers are expected to use an early round pick on a quarterback in the NFL draft in April and Harbaugh has a sterling record of success in developing young signal-callers.
At Stanford, Harbaugh recruited Andrew Luck, who would have been the No. 1 pick in the draft if he had not announced Thursday that he was returning to college for his junior season. At the University of San Diego, where Harbaugh was the head coach from 2004-06, he developed Josh Johnson, who left the non-scholarship, Division I-AA program and was a fifth-round pick of the Buccaneers in the 2008 draft.
Harbaugh’s jump to the NFL will rekindle his rivalry with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, a noted adversary of Harbaugh’s when Carroll was at USC. In addition, Harbaugh will join his older brother, John, the coach of the Ravens, in the league.
The 49ers are scheduled to play at Baltimore in the 2011 season.