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49ers GM Baalke confirms contact with Michigan

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — General manager Trent Baalke confirmed Monday that he was contacted by the University of Michigan to request an interview with San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

“The University of Michigan, in reaching out, did handle it correctly,” Baalke said on 95.7 The Game.

“As I look at it, it’s very simple: He’s the head football coach of the San Francisco 49ers,” Baalke continued. “And you read about reports, not just on coaches –?? a lot of coaches, a lot of speculation. We heard the same thing last year with the University of Texas and USC and a couple of others making overtures to him. He’s a good football coach. And people want good football coaches. So anytime there’s an opportunity for a place like the University of Michigan or University of Texas to look into a good football coaches, they do that. And that’s to be expected. You’d rather have somebody that’s coveted than somebody that’s not.”

Harbaugh began what is expected to be his final week as the San Francisco 49ers coach the same way he began the previous 16 this season — with his eyes focused on his next opponent, not his next employer.

“I have not participated in any of the speculation, the unnamed sources, the rumors,” Harbaugh said Monday when asked to comment on a report by Fox’s Jay Glazer over the weekend that the 49ers plan to part ways with their four-year coach within 48 hours of the end of Sunday’s season finale against Arizona.

“I would ask you to have Jay Glazer go back and ask his source for more clarification,” Harbaugh continued. “I haven’t participated, and I don’t intend to now. This has been a good 12 months of this kind of thing, so no reason to start now.

“Does that answer your question?”

It didn’t, so Harbaugh was asked to elaborate.

“What will happen, will happen. What won’t happen, won’t happen,” he said. “I work at the pleasure of the organization and I will let them have the floor on that.”

Harbaugh has one year remaining on his contract with the 49ers. After negotiations on an extension stalled last off-season, 49ers president Jed York stated that no further talks would take place until after the 2014 season.

With Harbaugh still under contract, the 49ers retain the right to keep him as coach for one more season or treat him as an asset and attempt to trade him. All indications are he won’t be back, and if Glazer’s report is correct, the club has left itself a very small window into which to squeeze a trade.

Harbaugh was asked if he had the sense that Sunday would be his last game as 49ers coach.

“Like I said: What will happen, will happen. What won’t happen, won’t happen,” he repeated. “Like the players, like the coaches, we are dedicated to doing our job. Finish what you start and that’s the mindset.”

Harbaugh couldn’t resist taking what could be one final shot at all the unnamed sources that have fueled recent rumors and speculation.

“The high road’s the only road I know,” he said. “I’ll just keep on that one.”

The 49ers (7-8) enter the finale on a four-game losing streak and need a win to keep Harbaugh from recording his first losing season as a coach since his second season at Stanford (5-7 in 2008).

“It’s the holiday season,” Harbaugh noted. “Let’s hug our families and go get a win here. Have that opportunity to do that. Win the football game. That’s a great opportunity.”

New reports on Harbaugh’s future seem to surface every day. Some are attributed to unnamed sources. Others are speculation made by informed reporters.

Harbaugh was engulfed in more than his fair share of these reports over the weekend and spilling into Monday. Here is some of the “noise,” as Harbaugh likes to call it:

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on ESPN’s “NFL Insiders” Monday: “The more people you speak to about it, the more it seems as if (the University of) Michigan is a landing spot for Jim Harbaugh. The pendulum seems to have swung from him staying in the NFL to him perhaps going back to college.”

One report at the start of the weekend insisted Harbaugh was torn between staying in the NFL and returning to college football, where another report had him being offered $48 million over six years by Michigan.

Another report claimed York and general manager Trent Baalke want to meet with Harbaugh at the earliest possible opportunity following Sunday’s season finale against Arizona to determine the coach’s fate and, presumably, begin a search for a new coach.

Glazer provided more details to that report Sunday, saying the 49ers will make a decision on Harbaugh within 48 hours of the final gun in the Arizona game.

One source said the 49ers were considering Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as Harbaugh’s replacement. Another insisted the club has discussed New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Another report stated that Stanford’s David Shaw, also considered to be a candidate to replace Harbaugh, wants to remain with the Cardinal.

Ultimately, Harbaugh will be right. What will happen will happen.


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