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Harbaugh joins 49ers; Fisher stays; Sparano extension?

SAN FRANCISCO — All week, Jim Harbaugh had a good feeling about jumping to the NFL for the 49ers — just the way mentor and late Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh did more than 30 years ago.

Calling it a "perfect competitive opportunity," Harbaugh, 47, accepted the job as 49ers coach Friday and said his goal is to win a title for "one of the legendary franchises in all of football."

The successful Stanford coach gets a five-year deal to stay in California's bay area, moving on after four years with the Cardinal. ESPN reported Harbaugh's deal is for $25 million.

Harbaugh — who joins the Ravens' John Harbaugh as the first brothers to be head coaches in NFL history — decided to jump though San Francisco has missed the playoffs for eight straight seasons and Orange Bowl MVP quarterback Andrew Luck said Thursday that he would remain at Stanford for another season.

"I can feel the enthusiasm coursing through my veins right now," he said. "I accept this competitive challenge willingly."

FISHER STAYS: Titans owner Bud Adams decided Jeff Fisher will return as coach for 2011, the team announced.

"Jeff has meant a great deal to this franchise and we have reached some incredible heights under his leadership," Adams said in a statement.

Fisher went 6-10 in his 16th full season, putting his job status in question. But he outlasted quarterback Vince Young, with whom Fisher feuded this season. This week, the Titans announced plans to part ways with Young.

Fisher is due roughly $6.5 million in the final year of his deal. He wasn't available to comment because he was traveling to Arizona to watch his son, Trent, play for Auburn in Monday's BCS title game. But he said in a statement that he and Adams had a good talk about the team.

DOLPHINS make nice? The Dolphins have extended coach Tony Sparano's contract two years, through 2013, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. His $2.8 million salary is believed to remain in the same range, but he will also have an expanded role in player personnel decisions, the paper said.

Friends and work associates for the past eight years, dating to their days with the Cowboys, Sparano and GM Jeff Ireland had issues to resolve, the paper reported, after the Ireland-assisted pursuit of Harbaugh fell through late Thursday.

In another example of the team's strange week, Miami scheduled a news conference Friday, presumably to announce the contract extension, but the session was postponed 20 minutes before the start. No reason was given. Nearly two hours later, the team rescheduled for today.

BRONCOS: With Harbaugh out of the mix, new football boss John Elway said the team isn't interested in any other coaches from the college ranks for the team's vacant job.

BROWNS: Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur became the first candidate known to have formally visited with team president Mike Holmgren about Cleveland's vacant coaching job.

FINES: The league docked Colts linebacker Gary Brackett $35,000 for his hit on Titans long snapper Ken Amato on Sunday. Others fined: Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs ($15,000 for a punch after a play), and three for roughing the passer: Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork ($10,000), Dolphins defensive end Paul Soliai ($10,000) and Raiders defensive lineman John Henderson ($7,500).

PRO BOWL: Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams was added to the NFC team to replace Lions rookie Ndamukong Suh, who is having shoulder surgery.

Bucs WR Williams up for rookie honor

Bucs receiver Mike Williams, a fourth-round pick, is among five finalists for the NFL rookie of the year. He joins four first-round picks: Rams QB Sam Bradford, Browns cornerback and former Florida star Joe Haden, Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty and Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Williams led rookie receivers in receptions (65), yards (964) and touchdowns (11), a club record for receiving TDs. He also became the first rookie since Randy Moss in 1998 with double-digit touchdown catches.

Harbaugh joins 49ers; Fisher stays; Sparano extension? 01/07/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 14, 2011 6:26pm]

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