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Friday, January 7, 2011
Getting Harbaugh should silence critics

By Mike Sando

The San Francisco 49ers wanted Jim Harbaugh and will get him, marking a badly needed victory for team president Jed York and the organization.

Harbaugh
Harbaugh
ESPN's Adam Schefter initially used the phrase "expected to" when reporting news of the five-year agreement, a wise choice of words given the twists and turns associated with Harbaugh's various candidacies for jobs with the 49ers, Miami Dolphins and others. The 49ers has subsequently called a news conference for 6:30 p.m. ET.

When Harbaugh signs the deal, York and the 49ers will have scored a bottom-line victory in a bottom-line business.

Their handling of the searches for a general manager and a head coach opened them to criticism at times, but getting their guy was all that mattered in the end. The terms of the deal, reported as five years and $25 million, meant the 49ers were not lowballing Harbaugh when they offered about $5 million per season, even as the Dolphins reportedly offered $7 million to $8 million.

The 49ers now appear to have shown admirable restraint and patience.

Can Harbaugh coach? The success he enjoyed at Stanford suggests he can.

Will that success translate to the NFL? Many factors beyond Harbaugh's on-field coaching will determine whether he succeeds with the 49ers. He'll have to find a quarterback, put together a staff, help identify talent in the draft, manage personalities, communicate effectively and more.

The 49ers can worry about those things later.

For now, they can celebrate landing a high-profile coaching candidate amid significant doubts. For the first time since they hired Steve Mariucci, they have a young, ascending, offensive-minded head coach -- exactly what they wanted.