Harbaugh out as 49ers coach

Santa Clara, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jim Harbaugh is out as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers after four seasons.

That much is certain.

The only question remaining is where he goes next, with all signs pointing to a return to college football.

The 49ers and Harbaugh officially parted ways after Sunday's 20-17 win over Arizona, a move weeks in the making that the team called mutual.

The 49ers announced they have already begun a search for a new head coach and that Harbaugh is free to pursue other opportunities, which may include a return to his alma mater.

Multiple reports over the weekend indicated Harbaugh will be introduced on Tuesday as the new head coach at the University of Michigan, where he is expected to accept a reported six-year, $48 million offer to coach the Wolverines, who fired head coach Brady Hoke on Dec. 2 after four seasons.

The 49ers said CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke will hold a press conference on Monday to address the team's coaching situation.

"Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions," York said in a statement. "We thank Jim for bringing a tremendous competitive nature and a great passion for the game to the 49ers. He and his staff restored a winning culture that has been the standard for our franchise throughout its history. Their commitment and hard work resulted in a period of success that should be looked back on proudly by our organization and our fans. We wish Jim and his family all the best."

Harbaugh, 51, led the 49ers to a 44-19-1 record in four seasons with three consecutive appearances in the NFC Championship game and one trip to the Super Bowl.

With one year left on his contract, he guided the Niners to an 8-8 record this season amid swirling rumors over his job security.

Harbaugh coached at Stanford for four seasons before taking the 49ers job and at San Diego for three years before that. He led Stanford to an Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech in his final season at Stanford.

"For the last four seasons I have had the great privilege to coach one of the storied franchises in the history of football," Harbaugh said in a statement. "I will miss competing alongside this group of players and coaches, I have the utmost respect and admiration for their hard work and support. It has been my honor to share the sideline with these mighty men. I will always appreciate and remember fondly, the passion and support of our faithful fans, and want to express my particular thanks to them."

Harbaugh played 177 games as a quarterback in the NFL, beginning his 15-year career with the Chicago Bears and also spending time with the Colts, Ravens, Chargers and Panthers. Before that, he was a standout QB at Michigan under legendary coach Bo Schembechler. He played for the Wolverines from 1983-86.