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Stanford's Harbaugh Agrees to Contract to Coach NFL's 49ers

By moving from Stanford University to the San Francisco 49ers, coach Jim Harbaugh gave the National Football League a sideline sibling rivalry.

Harbaugh’s 49ers are scheduled in 2011 to play the Baltimore Ravens, coached by his brother, John Harbaugh.

“We did talk about it and John said they’ll probably make it the Thursday night kickoff game for the opener,” Jim Harbaugh said with a laugh. “It’ll be great. I look forward to coaching against John Harbaugh and Bill Belichick and the many great coaches in the National Football League.”

The Harbaughs might not be the only NFL head coaching brothers for long -- Rob Ryan, defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns and the twin brother of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, is expected to meet with the Carolina Panthers about their head coaching vacancy.

Jim Harbaugh, 47, who led Stanford to a 12-1 record and an Orange Bowl victory this season, reached agreement with the 49ers after being courted by teams including the Miami Dolphins and the University of Michigan, his alma mater.

The 49ers did not release details of the contract. ESPN, citing people it didn’t identify, said Harbaugh received a five-year contract worth $25 million.

“This is a great day for me,” Harbaugh said yesterday in a news conference. “I’m excited about the San Francisco 49ers, one of the legendary franchises in all of football.”

Orange Bowl Win

In four years with Stanford, Harbaugh was 29-21 with two postseason bowl appearances, including a 40-12 win against Virginia Tech in the Jan. 3 Orange Bowl in Miami. The Cardinal were 1-11 the year before Harbaugh arrived and have finished with at least a share of second place in the Pac-10 Conference each of the last two seasons.

Harbaugh’s previous coaching stops include the University of San Diego and the Oakland Raiders as a quarterbacks coach.

The 49ers fired third-year coach Mike Singletary in December, and the team finished 6-10, one game behind the Seattle Seahawks in the National Football Conference West division.

Harbaugh played 14 years in the NFL as a quarterback for the Ravens, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers. In 1995, he led the Colts to within one game of the Super Bowl, earning a Pro Bowl selection and the AP Comeback Player of the Year award.

Heisman Trophy Finalists

Harbaugh coached a Heisman Trophy finalist in each of the past two seasons -- running back Toby Gerhart in 2009, and quarterback Andrew Luck in 2010. Stanford set a school record for wins this year with 12, with its lone loss coming to the undefeated Pac-10 champion Oregon Ducks, who play Auburn for the national title on Jan. 10.

“I had some options at the college level and in the pros,” Harbaugh said. “I just felt like what I wanted to do at this time was to coach in the National Football League. I knew in my heart the right decision was the San Francisco 49ers.”

Harbaugh’s father, Jack, 71, was a coach at the collegiate level for four decades before retiring in 2006. He’ll have a chance to see his sons face each other this season -- the date of the game has not yet been determined. The NFL announced the matchup earlier this week when it released 2011 opponents for each team.

John Harbaugh, 48, who is 15 months older than Jim, was asked in a conference call yesterday whether his father would show his objectivity by wearing a two-team cap when the 49ers travel to Baltimore.

“I think we can say with certainty there is absolutely no chance of the half-49er, half-Baltimore apparel for my dad or anybody in the family,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net; Rob Gloster in San Francisco at rgloster@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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