As Michigan's bowl game and the NFL offseason near, speculation about Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh and his future continues to swirl. SB Nation Detroit's own Ian Casselberry recently ran down the latest rumblings about Harbaugh, as the San Francisco 49ers head coaching job opened up this week. Many are pointing to Harbaugh as Mike Singletary's eventual replacement, resulting in a number of stories being written about Harbaugh and the 49ers.
Even before Singletary was actually fired, lots of speculation was out there about Harbaugh leaving Stanford for the 49ers. Lots of speculation also is out there about Harbaugh eventually replacing Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez. He has obviously not been fired, as a decision about his future isn't going to be made until after the Gator Bowl, but many are already saying that Rodriguez will be let go and replaced by Harbaugh.
Even if something does happen with Harbaugh and Michigan, it will have to wait until after Stanford plays in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4. Regardless, two NFL insiders reported today that the whispers around league circles are that Harbaugh is indeed going to leave Stanford. The consensus seems to be that he is expected to end up in Ann Arbor rather than San Francisco, though. Adam Schefter said this on the ESPN Football Today podcast (comments via the Detroit News):
Regarding the 49ers' interest in Harbaugh, Schefter said: "They love Jim Harbaugh. My understanding is it's going to be very difficult to get him and I don't think he'll wind up there. The sense is Jim Harbaugh will wind up at the University of Michigan."
Schefter, a Michigan alum, added this:
"Again, this is the buzz around the league. This is what smart people think is going to happen. That's the sense of people that I know, trust and respect — that Harbaugh will not go to the Niners, that he will go to Michigan. And it will be up to another NFL team to see if it could entice him and prevent him from going to a place like Michigan.
"One thing I feel certain about: Jim Harbaugh is going to leave Stanford."
It's important to note that Schefter is not reporting that Harbaugh will for sure end up going to Michigan, but based on what he's heard from people around the NFL, the feeling is that a move to Ann Arbor is extremely likely. NFL Network's Jason La Canfora has heard similar rumblings.
As we chronicled earlier this week, NFL GMs I talk to, including some looking at coaches, think Harbaugh goes to U of Michigan
It's possible that Harbaugh hasn't even communicated with Michigan yet considering Rodriguez is still the head coach, but people around the NFL, based on these reports, seem to think that if offered, Harbaugh would jump at the chance to return to Ann Arbor.