Michigan has contacted the San Francisco 49ers regarding Coach Jim Harbaugh’s status, the NFL team’s general manager acknowledged.
“As long as it’s handled correctly, [it’s OK], and I think the University of Michigan, in reaching out, did handle it correctly,” the Detroit Free press quoted 49ers GM Trent Baalke as saying in his weekly appearance on a San Francisco radio show. “As I look at it, it’s very simple: He’s the head football coach of the San Francisco 49ers. You read reports, not just on [Harbaugh] but on a lot of coaches. . . . We heard the same thing last year, with the University of Texas and USC and a couple others making overtures to him. He’s a good football coach, and people want good football coaches.”
Harbaugh refused Monday to address speculation about whether Michigan, his alma mater, had connected with the 49ers about his status. The NFL Network has reported that Michigan made a six-year, $48-million offer to the embattled Harbaugh, whose 49ers are 7-8 and will miss the playoffs for the first time in his four seasons.
Smith admits visit
San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith acknowledged that he visited Ray McDonald’s home for a short time on the day the ex-49ers defensive lineman is accused of sexually assaulting a woman. Smith said he didn’t drink any alcohol and that he is regularly checked for sobriety. He served a nine-game suspension this year for violations of the NFL’s substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies.
Raiola appeal denied
Detroit center Dominic Raiola lost his appeal to the NFL of a one-game suspension for stepping on Chicago defensive tackle Ego Ferguson, and will miss Sunday’s NFC North title-deciding showdown at Green Bay.
A humbled Manziel
Johnny Manziel said he’d been humbled by his rough rookie season, and promised to be a more committed quarterback. “I’m not the guy that I’ve always been,” said Manziel, who will miss the Cleveland Browns’ season finale at Baltimore because of a hamstring injury. “It’s been a year of growing up for me.”
Manziel would not acknowledge that his well-chronicled fast-paced off-season lifestyle might have affected his readiness to play. But he said he may have misjudged how difficult it would be to transition from college to the pros, and that after 13 games as a backup and two starts in which he seemed overwhelmed and unprepared, he realized he must change. “This is a job for me now and I have to take it a lot more seriously than maybe I did at first,” he said.
Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer is not practicing because of a sore shoulder, meaning rookie Connor Shaw could start against the Ravens. Cleveland also signed veteran Tyler Thigpen as a possible backup.
AFC West champion Denver led the way with nine players selected for the Pro Bowl, including Peyton Manning, picked for the 14th time. Dallas was second with six selections.
Seattle re-signed former USC safety Dion Bailey to its practice squad, five days after releasing him.
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers practiced and said he’s feeling no effects from back and rib injuries suffered Saturday against the 49ers.
The Detroit at Green Bay and Carolina at Atlanta division title-deciding games were moved to late-afternoon time slots (1:15 p.m. PST), and Panthers-Falcons was switched to CBS under the NFL’s flex-scheduling provision.
Chicago put defensive end Willie Young on injured reserve because of a torn left Achilles’ tendon.