Jim Harbaugh didn’t exactly dismiss the cash.
But to coach at the highest level with the team that was the “right fit”?
To hear the ultra-competitive Harbaugh tell it, as he did repeatedly today during today’s press conference to introduce him as the 18th coach in 49ers’ history, that was the overriding factor in his decision to leave the comfort of Stanford for the NFL.
If the reports are accurate, Harbaugh turned down at least $2 million per year to sign a five-year, $25 million deal with San Francisco. The Dolphins reportedly were offering Harbaugh close to $8 million annually.
“I like a buck just like the next guy, but I love coaching, and I love winning, and I love football,” said Harbaugh, who later added. “… It really comes down to this is the level I want to be on. This is the shot and the organzition that I wanted to do it with. And it’s the perfect competitive opportunity.”
Harbaugh used that phrase — “perfect competitive opportunity” — more than once in explaining his reasoning for selecting San Francisco over his many other suitors.
Continuing the competitive theme, Harbaugh, 47, didn’t plan to raise a glass after today’s introduction at the Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco.
“We leave here,” he said, “and we’re going to work.”
Harbaugh had evidently spread the word.
President and CEO Jed York was well aware that his new coach wanted to hit the ground sprinting.
“He’s going back to the office tonight to get working,” York said. “That’s what he wants to do.”
• The offensive-minded Harbaugh will employ the offense made famous by Bill Walsh nearly three decades ago.
“We will install the West Coast Offense in San Francisco, the birthplace of the West Coast Offense,” he said. “And I’m excited about that.”
Harbaugh no doubt scored more points with the faithful when asked about quarterbacks. Did he feel the quarterback was the most important position on the team? The question, of course, was a reference to Mike Singletary’s widely mocked assertion that the signal-caller didn’t have such an exclusive distinction.
“The quarterback does touch the ball every single play, so maybe I’m a little biased, but I think it’s the most important position on the football team,” said Harbaugh, who had a 15-year NFL career as a quarterback. “And I think it’s the most difficult in all of sports.”
• Harbaugh and Baalke didn’t announce changes to the coaching staff.
It has been speculated that Harbaugh will bring Stanford defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, a 24-year NFL veteran, and offensive coordinator David Shaw with him to San Francisco. Shaw has nine years of NFL experience as an assistant.
“The 49er organization will put together a great staff, and really can’t mention anybody’s name that’s not on the staff already until somebody signs a contract,” Harbaugh said. “You know job one will be talking to our players this week and simultaneously trying to hire a great staff.”
• General manager Trent Baalke had it written into his contract that he will have control over the 53-man roster, a privilege he didn’t have as the de facto GM this season. Baalke will also have full control over the draft.