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John Harbaugh acknowledges brother Jim’s time in San Francisco is over

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If there’s one person who may have an insider’s perspective on Jim Harbaugh’s unclear future, it’s his brother, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

Of course, the prevailing opinion in NFL circles is that it’s a foregone conclusion that Harbaugh’s time as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers is at its end. Whether he ends up back at alma mater Michigan or moves on to take over another NFL team is unclear — although a return home to turn around a floundering Wolverines football program is almost too perfect of a story, not to mention a financially lucrative one for the coach — the fact remains Jim Harbaugh is preparing to take on his next coaching career challenge.

And his brother is among those who have accepted that Harbaugh’s time in San Fran is all but over for all intents and purposes.

“I know just from Jim’s standpoint, he’s done something there that’s been absolutely historic and amazing, it’s never been really accomplished in the history of football before, in terms of what he’s done for the city and for the fans there and for the players there,” John Harbaugh said in an interview with CSNBaltimore.com on Monday. “And I’m proud as heck of him.  Whatever’s next for him, he’ll do a great job there, whatever it is.  He’ll be fired up and excited to do it.  So I’m proud of him no matter what happens.  I think they had a great coach there for the last four years, and they were blessed and fortunate to have him.  I know the fans realize that and the players realize that, and that’s really what counts.”

Jim Harbaugh of course enjoyed a tremendous run with the 49ers, leading the team to three straight appearances in the NFC Championship Game during his first three years as head coach, including one trip to the Super Bowl, where he faced brother John in what was called the “Harbaugh Bowl.”

But things have quickly unraveled in the Bay, including speculation from the get-go this season that the relationship between Harbaugh and the front office has been irretrievably broken and that the two sides haven’t been on the same page for some time. There also have been reports that Harbaugh’s coaching style doesn’t play well with NFL players, another reason it might be wise for him to return to the college coaching ranks.

Whether Harbaugh ends up back at Michigan, takes a quick trip across the bay to become head coach of the Oakland Raiders or ends up with some other NFL team — the Chicago Bears reportedly are in the mix — a few things appear certain: Not only will he be moving on, but Harbaugh —  an almost disturbingly competitive individual — will be incredibly motivated to make the 49ers regret their decision.

(photo credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)