12:04pm: A source tells Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports (Twitter link) that Harbaugh’s family is flying into Ann Arbor on Monday, yet another indication that he’ll be taking the Michigan coaching job.
SUNDAY, 8:31am: A slew of others have reported that Harbaugh is likely to take the Michigan gig, including Dave Feldman of CSNBayArea.com (Twitter link), who says Harbaugh will be announced on Tuesday, and Feldman’s collegaue Matt Maiocco, who reports (Twitter link) that the 49ers have agreed to let Harbaugh of out his contract. Meanwhile, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report tweets that no deal has officially been signed, news which Ian Rapoport of NFL.com confirms (multiple Twitter links), noting that while Michigan’s plan is rein in Harbaugh and introduce him Tuesday, Harbaugh hasn’t informed the Raiders that he won’t accept their head coaching job, and hasn’t told close friends that he’s going to Ann Arbor.
SATURDAY: Our own Dallas Robinson wrote last night that there would be a resolution between Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers on the future of the two parties within 72 hours, and rumors of those decisions are already coming to the forefront. Two members of the 49ers staff and a third NFL source have said that they expect Harbaugh to accept the $48MM offer to become the next head coach at the University of Michigan, reports Jason Cole of Bleacher Report.
“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.”
Cole also writes that Harbaugh will be bringing along several 49ers assistant coaches to Michigan, including Reggie Davis and John Morton.
Harbaugh had been pushing the 49ers toward paying closer in the range of $10MM per year for top level head coaches, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Florio surmises that if NFL teams are unwilling to increase head coach salaries as revenues increase, then Harbaugh would be best off heading to Michigan for a reported $8MM annual salary.
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News has examined reports that Harbaugh and Michigan representatives were planning to meet. He cited a report by CBS5 Arizona’s Joe Pequeno that Michigan could announce their hire as early as Tuesday. It was known that Harbaugh was considering that Michigan offer, but there was also evidence that he would have preferred to stay in the NFL, presumably taking over with the Raiders or Dolphins.
Should Harbaugh return to coach his alma mater, that decision would likely be made very soon, as they would not be comfortable waiting as other great candidates found college jobs as the offseason progresses.
While a coach of his stature could have fetched a pretty nice trade haul at one point, Harbaugh’s value and the team’s leverage have deteriorated as it has become clear he would not return to the team in 2015. A PFR Poll posted by Ben Levine on Christmas asked what was the possible compensation the 49ers could receive, however nearly 45% of voters believed the team would release him from his contract without receiving anything in return.
If he leaves for Michigan, that is exactly what the 49ers will get back for him.