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Friday, January 7, 2011
Jim Harbaugh a 'home run' for 49ers

By Mike Sando

The San Francisco 49ers are getting a hard-charging, schematically brilliant head coach whose philosophy suits the team's existing personnel perfectly.

As a bonus, Jim Harbaugh has also clashed famously with Seattle coach Pete Carroll, meaning NFC West fans can expect more edge to the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry.

That was the word Friday from ESPN college football analyst and former NFL quarterback Brock Huard, who would know. Huard worked two Stanford games this past season and followed the Pac-10 closely even before his days as a quarterback at the University of Washington in the 1990s. His brother, Damon, went to camp with the 49ers under previous coach Mike Singletary. Huard works during the week as a radio host on 710ESPN Seattle.

"I think hiring Jim Harbaugh is a home run in every way for the 49ers," Huard said.

Let us count the ways, according to Huard: Fans of the 49ers should be hopeful, in other words. Harbaugh's offensive expertise and passion for offensive diversity will stand in stark contrast to the simplified approach former Singletary implemented.

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. saw some of the same positives Huard outlined. He also offered words of caution based on his own experiences working under another successful former college head coach.

"I was hired by Butch Davis in Cleveland and he was the best in the group of college coaches, and he didn't do well there," Williamson said. "All those guys, they took a college view of how to acquire talent. It is just so much different. Knowing the league is so important. All those things with Harbaugh are very unproven to me. Yesterday, people were talking about Miami making him the highest-paid coach in the NFL. To me, that would be insane."

The 49ers reportedly will pay Harbaugh $25 million over five seasons, less than Carroll is getting from the Seahawks and less than what the Dolphins were reportedly offering.

"The 49ers were the worst schematic team in the league," Williamson said. "That starts with Singletary and goes down to the way they handle quarterbacks, put together game plans, have no stability. Harbaugh will erase all that. He is worth more to the Niners than any other team in the league."

Harbaugh has roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. His hiring should resonate locally.

"Last year, their fan base had to be champing at the bit because the NFC West looked so winnable, and there was no more disappointing team," Williamson said. "These were same old Niners who stunk since Steve Young left. Then they bring in a guy who has been extremely successful in that area of the country and it is good for ticket sales and all the off-field business things. They have always been the passive team who doesn't make the big move. Now, they spent the money and got the guy everyone else wanted."