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Harbaugh Ready to Compete

Posted Jan 7, 2011

“I love coaching, I love winning and I love football.”

Those were the most poignant words from the 49ers newest head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Competition was a common theme of Harbaugh’s introductory press conference as the 49ers 18th coach in franchise history.

In the end, it was the desire to compete on the highest level of the sport that most attracted Harbaugh to leave Stanford University for a multiyear deal with the 49ers.

“I can feel the enthusiasm coursing through my veins right now,” Harbaugh said to the Bay Area media. “I accept this competitive challenge willingly, and look forward to it.”

Harbaugh, joined on stage at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco with new 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, said he plans on getting to work right away, as soon as Friday night.

The chance to coach and compete in the National Football League was more than appealing for Harbaugh, who has spent the past four seasons leading a resurgent Cardinal football program.

As Baalke pointed out, Harbaugh has the “it factor,” something the organization wanted in its search for a new head coach.

“It’s a happy day, but there’s a lot of work that begins today,” Team President and CEO Jed York said.

The work is no problem for Harbaugh however. He prides himself on the finer points that come along with coaching football.

“I view it as the perfect opportunity,” Harbaugh said. “The perfect competitive platform.”

As for the newsworthy aspects of the press conference, Harbaugh said he plans on meeting with the current 49ers coaching staff while potentially including some assistants from his staff at Stanford. On the personnel front, Baalke said he would have full control of the team’s 53-man roster and personnel decisions. Baalke added that he would be looking for a replacement for his former role as the team’s vice president of player personnel.

The change for Harbaugh was admittedly difficult after he led the Cardinal to back-to-back bowl wins, including a dominant victory in this year’s Orange Bowl.

But a return to the NFL was something he couldn’t pass up. After all, Harbaugh was a quarterback for five teams during his 15-year NFL career.

In taking the post as 49ers head coach, Harbaugh said there will be an emphasis on the quarterback position, which he described as the most important position on the field.

“Maybe I’m biased,” he joked.

Harbaugh also said the 49ers would once again utilize the West Coast offense, which was first implemented by his former mentor, the late Hall of Fame 49ers coach Bill Walsh.

Harbaugh’s loyalty to Walsh remains unchanged. A photo on his computer background is a constant reminder of his fond memories with the legendary coach. He looks at it every day.

Harbaugh plans on working his way to Walsh’s status, but being in the same category doesn’t sit well with him. “I have a long way to go before any comparison can be made,” he said.

First up for Harbaugh is communicating with the players currently on the 49ers roster and then working on putting together a great coaching staff.

Players are already ecstatic with the news of their next head coach.

“This is outstanding for the 49ers,” tight end Vernon Davis told 49ers.com. “From watching Coach Harbaugh, it’s just a privilege to have him.”

Harbaugh looks forward to working with the players and getting to know them. And after meeting with York and Baalke for several hours earlier in the week, Harbaugh was eager to work with them as well.

Work ethic, integrity, and doing things with class all sat well with the 49ers new coach, who repeatedly spoke of the 49ers being a competitive opportunity for him to win.

The coach also said, “losing is not an option,” on multiple occasions in his half hour of speaking.

Now that he’s staying in the Bay Area after signing with the 49ers, Harbaugh feels at ease with the change in his life. 

“I knew in my heart and gut that the right decision was with the San Francisco 49ers,” he said. “I’m excited to get started on process.”

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