GLENDALE, Ariz. — If Jim Harbaugh wasn't so highly visible, leading the San Francisco 49ers back to the NFL playoffs, you might think he was still coaching at Stanford.
The transition to David Shaw has been that fluid.
“That was the plan,” Cardinal offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said, “to maintain the continuity from our 2010 season.”
No, not much has changed in Palo Alto, even with Harbaugh moving his office up the road to Candlestick.
The Cardinal went to a BCS game a year ago, destroying Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl. It's again back in one, tonight's Fiesta Bowl against No. 3 Oklahoma State here in suburban Phoenix.
Harbaugh kickstarted the stalled program. And Shaw has kept it running.
“I think it was a very natural fit,” all-conference tight end Coby Fleener said. “For him to just kind of step in, it wasn't an issue with us at all.”
Shaw joined Harbaugh in 2006 at the University of San Diego, working as the Toreros' receivers coach and passing coordinator.
When Harbaugh took the Stanford job the following year, he took Shaw with him – and made him the offensive coordinator.
So, it was natural that Shaw would get the job when Harbaugh left for the NFL.
“He always had a big presence on the staff, as it was,” said Andrew Luck, Stanford's All-America quarterback and two-time Heisman finalist. “He made it comfortable for everyone. So much has been the same. It's been very, very smooth.”
Didn't hurt that Shaw is a 1994 Stanford grad, a former Cardinal receiver. He also played basketball and ran track.
“I'm very proud of my school,” Shaw said this week.
Shaw is able to relate to his players on a different level, because of his playing experience at the school. It's something he references often, several players said.