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Posted at 9:05 AM ET, 01/ 7/2011

Jim Harbaugh's top options San Francisco 49ers, Stanford

By Cindy Boren

Updated 3:15 p.m.

Jim Harbaugh is choosing between remaining the coach at Stanford and jumping to the San Francisco 49ers, according to multiple reports.

This never-ending saga (so lengthy, there's an animated "Bachelor" parody) is getting a little weird. Harbaugh, according to a CSN Bay Area report, is using different agents, who are unconnected, to negotiate with each institution.

At this point, to paraphrase Rich Eisen, it wouldn't be surprising to learn that Brett Favre is advising Harbaugh.

Updated at 10:42 a.m.

The ongoing mystery of just where Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh will work next year gained a bit of clarity when Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross' dalliance with him ended Thursday night.

Ross flew back to South Florida to make nice today with the coach he hadn't fired, Tony Sparano. (According to one report, he'll meet with Dolphins officials today and still hasn't been told he's being retained.)

That puts Harbaugh's coaching future closer to a resolution and he may just wind up where he started. His quarterback, Andrew Luck, is returning to Stanford, interestingly enough, and Harbaugh met with the school's president Thursday. Might he return to the Cardinal? Stanford now is offering a deal in the very posh vicinity of the San Francisco 49ers' initial offer of $4.5 million, according to

Miami's departure, perhaps hastened by the unseemliness with which the team went about trying to get a new coach, puts the Niners back in the picture. They're eager and have complied with the Rooney Rule by interviewing Oakland Raiders assistant Hue Jackson.

The Denver Broncos' interest in Harbaugh reportedly has cooled after Harbaugh displayed tepid interest in interviewing with John Elway, who runs the team's football operations and is a Stanford alum, and officials.

In the NFL, Harbaugh reportedly wants the same money ($6.5 million a year) Seattle paid former USC coach Pete Carroll, according to The Niners, though, have offered around $5 million, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea. At this point, Tim Kawakami writes, the Niners had better land him.

Peter King offers a smart hypothesis, via Twitter: "My guess is Stan richies said to him: We'll give u $5m to coach 1 yr, go for natl title, coach Luck, then go 2 NFL w/better openings in '12."

Now, that makes sense.

* * *

By the time this is over Jim Harbaugh will be 49ers coach, GM, VP, QB a multi-millionaire & dating a Kardashian. #Leverage -- "Late Show with David Letterman" head writer/executive producer Eric Stangel

By Cindy Boren  | January 7, 2011; 9:05 AM ET
Categories:  College football, NFL  
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Jim Harbaugh has completely turned around the football program at one of the most prestigious, scholastically demanding private universities in the country. His QB just passed on the NFL draft because he wants to get his degree in architectural design. (Like I said, scholastically demanding.) If they give him a bump, I can't imagine why he'd take an NFL coaching gig unless there's some deep seated sibling rivalry with this brother John. And having been an NFL QB for many years, Jim Harbaugh has intimate knowledge of what a head coach has to go through. I say he passes, at least for now and maybe for good.

Posted by: jhpurdy | January 7, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

How does THAT, make sense? His NFL value is sky high. No guaranteeing any nat'l championship game with the computers. What "better" openings will there be next year? The Redskins? After another season of Mike Shanahan bringing up his son to be the next HC, but fails again?

Posted by: MVPlaya8120 | January 7, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

If he jumps to the NFL, he would have less job security than he has at Stanford, where he likely makes more than enough money to live very, very, very comfortably (certainly many times more than a measly professor does). Life is short. If he enjoys what he's doing now, why change? The 49ers may not contend for a title for many years, if ever, no matter who is coach. Why take on that stress?

Posted by: Sutter | January 7, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

There may not be an NFL season in '11 and, if there's a shortened one, he'd be trying to rebuild a team without having daily contact with players (that would end when the CBA expires). Why not come back, go for a national championship and a Heisman for Luck, then enter the NFL with the QB?

Posted by: CindyBoren | January 7, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Anything short of this year's orange bowl victory will be a failure if he stays at Stanford. Is he going to sign a 1 yr. contract and leave? Good luck recruiting this year with that scenario. Meanwhile, Oregon will still be strong, USC is building up. It makes sense for Harbaugh to follow in his mentor's footsteps and move from Stanford to the Niners (Bill Walsh). Then he gets to beat up on Pete Carroll two times a year.

Posted by: MVPlaya8120 | January 7, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Stanford is the smart choice right now. The approval of the CBA is the wild card. Would YOU really want to start your NFL coaching career during a labor stoppage? So he stays at Stanford another year, guides and wins big with the supahstah QB, then they ride off into the sunset.

Posted by: ljo211 | January 7, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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