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Jim Harbaugh Leaves Stanford for 49ers

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Slow news day, huh?

As Jim Harbaugh said when asked what he's learned during the past week, if it's on the Internet it's true. This time, the truth hurts. To borrow a phrase from Steve Rushin, Harbaugh is taking his talents to North Beach after signing a five-year contract to become head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Harbaugh was introduced during a press conference this afternoon and admitted that it was "with a little bit of a heavy heart" that he decided to leave Stanford. Ultimately, the opportunity to make the jump to the NFL and follow in the footsteps of the late Bill Walsh was too good to pass up.

"I view it as the perfect opportunity, the perfect competitive platform, with the level playing field, a chance to be part of a team that goes after the highest award in all of sports, the Lombardi Trophy," Harbaugh said.

With Harbaugh gone, the attention turns to finding a replacement to lead the Stanford program he rebuilt over the past four years, a Stanford program that returns Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck. According to senior wide receiver Doug Baldwin, the players are lobbying for the Cardinal's offensive coordinator and Stanford graduate David Shaw.

Other potential candidates could include Stanford associate head coach Greg Roman, Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, and former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti. It's unclear whether Harbaugh will take any of his assistants, including defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, with him. What is clear is that the position he vacated is much more attractive than it was when he was hired by Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby in 2006.

"Jim Harbaugh has done an outstanding job of advancing the football program at Stanford University and I am grateful for all of his tremendous work," Bowlsby said. "Coach Harbaugh has led the program with integrity, vision, enthusiasm and energy and his teams have played with precision and exceptional passion."