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Did Jim Harbaugh's lawyer sign Michigan contract in 49ers locker room during Cardinals game?

We have a few more potential details from how the end of the Jim Harbaugh era went down. This time in regard to his dance with Michigan.

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The starts of the upcoming college football and NFL seasons are going to bring with them an interesting cross-over read. John Bacon, a newspaper and magazine writer has put together a book called Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football. The book is notable to San Francisco 49ers fans because the "return" of Michigan football involves the return of former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh.

The Wall Street Journal had an excerpt from the book, covering Harbaugh's final days in Santa Clara, and how his relationship re-emerged with Michigan. I know plenty of folks have already moved on from Jim Harbaugh, but details like this add more context to a situation that was fraught with intrigue. We have to take any reports with a grain of salt, but we can factor them into our thoughts on the matter. But the highlight has to be the possibility of Jim Harbaugh's lawyer having signed the Michigan deal on Harbaugh's behalf, while Harbaugh was coaching his last game with the 49ers. More amusing (or not I suppose), it might have happened in the 49ers locker room.

The excerpt talks about the first signs Michigan had that Harbaugh might have an interest in eventually coaching in football again. Harbaugh was in Michigan at Garrett Celek's wedding, Harbaugh got into a singing of the Michigan fight song. Later in the evening, the discussion moved on to Harbaugh's love of the idea of growing up in a college town, and his interest in his kids growing up in such an environment. There is nothing specific about the Michigan job, but the article includes some interesting quotations from Harbaugh.

The article gets more interesting when they go into the December dance that resulted in Harbaugh signing a contract with Michigan. According to Bacon, after Michigan fired Brady Hoke on December 2, interim athletic director Jim Hackett started talking with Jim Harbaugh on Saturday nights.

The discussions supposedly did not involve discussing Harbaugh taking over the Michigan job, but rather what Michigan needed. According to Hackett, they went back and forth on this, and "getting really excited about the possibilities[.]" Hackett claims at this point that he and Harbaugh had this exchange:

Jim says, ‘We're getting excited about this, aren't we?'

"Yes we are," Hackett said.

"You didn't offer me the job, did you?" Harbaugh asked.

"No, I haven't."

"I didn't accept, did I?"

"No, you didn't."

Hackett gave a December 27 walk-away date, which brought us to the tail end of Jim Harbaugh's time with the 49ers. The excerpt skips to December 27, simply saying Hackett had grown more and more convinced Harbaugh was "sincerely interested in leading Michigan's program."

Make of that what you will, but the excerpt moves to the day before the 49ers final game of 2014, and Jim Harbaugh's final game as head coach. Hackett says he talked to Harbaugh on Saturday the 27th and needed an answer about Michigan. He says Harbaugh told him he had to finish his commitment in San Francisco, but he was interested in coming to Michigan.

Harbaugh has previously said he was notified after the December 14 game that the team no longer wanted him as coach. It makes sense then that he would be ready to make the move before the season wrapped. The excerpt indicates he was hesitant at first about signing the deal, but eventually agreed to sign it. Based on the timeline involved, it sounds like Harbaugh's lawyer signed the deal on his behalf while the 49ers were playing their regular season finale, and might have done so in the 49ers locker room.

I don't think there is a whole lot to make of this, but it does add a little more context to Jim Harbaugh's situation in December. I wasn't there for these conversations, so I will take them with a bit of a grain of salt. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a bit more to the story than Hackett would let on, but we'll take what we can get from it.