Harbaugh mum on Michigan's interest
Jim Harbaugh may have the Michigan fan base in a frenzy.
But it’s tough to tell if he knows it.
At his weekly Thursday news conference this afternoon, previewing Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers, Harbaugh brushed off the attention.
Playing off the NFL Network’s Wednesday report of a six-year, $48 million offer from Michigan for the vacant head coaching job, the San Francisco 49ers’ coach was asked if he was offered a contract by the school.
He barely even flinched, keeping the deadpan expression he has held in most news conference in recent weeks.
“As you know, I only talk about the job that I have,” Harbaugh replied, calmly, to reporters at their Santa Clara, Calif. facility. “We’ve been together a long time, it’s a longstanding policy.”
But he wasn’t really interested in talking about his current job either.
Harbaugh, the former Michigan star quarterback, is being pursued by U-M brass and has been the primary target since Brady Hoke was fired Dec. 2 after four seasons.
Yet he still has a year remaining on the five-year contract he signed with the 49ers in January 2011. So, even though many analysts consider his rift with management unrepairable, he still is their employee.
General manager Trent Baalke told reporters this week that he and Harbaugh would talk after the season, which concludes Dec. 28 against Arizona.
49ERS: Frank Gore went through a limited practice Thursday after sitting out the first two sessions of the week and is on pace to play Saturday against the Chargers, coach Jim Harbaugh said.
The 49ers’ all-time leading rusher was in a blue, non-contact jersey Thursday. That implies Gore is in the exertion stage of the league’s post-concussion protocol and must only pass the simulated-contact stage to be able to play Saturday.
On Wednesday Gore said he has felt “normal” since Sunday’s game. Still, passing the the final stage is not a mere formality. Right tackle Anthony Davis suffered a concussion Nov. 16 and remains in a blue, no-contact jersey this week.
Gore’s main backup, Carlos Hyde, has not practiced this week with an ankle injury. The team’s only healthy running backs are Alfonso Smith and Phillip Tanner, who was signed Wednesday.
COWBOYS: Dallas running back DeMarco Murray took a step closer towards playing in Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts by participating in practice Thursday — albeit on a limited basis.
It was Murray’s first official work with the team since undergoing surgery on Monday to repair a broken bone in his left hand. He had a metal plate and screws inserted to repair a fractured fourth metacarpal, suffered in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Murray did some individual work on Wednesday but didn’t officially participate in practice.
On Thursday, he did individual work and got some team rep as the Cowboys gauged his ability to function following the surgery. That he was able to grip the ball was a key part of the equation and Murray seemed to do that just fine in practice.
Practice squad running back Ryan Williams said Murray looked good and there’s no doubt in his mind that he is playing.
DOLPHINS: Despite widespread media speculation that the Dolphins will pursue 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, owner Stephen Ross has shown no indication that he has any interest in making a coaching change, sources told the Miami Herald on Thursday.
Furthermore, the organization has no desire to be used as leverage in Harbaugh’s upcoming negotiations — which some see as inevitable based on Ross’ previous relationship with Harbaugh.
The tie between Ross and Harbaugh goes back to 2011, when the Dolphins owner unsuccessfully tried to hire him to replace Tony Sparano — who was still employed by the team at the time.