But after spending two seasons at Michigan as a redshirt freshman and then as a backup last season to quarterback Chad Henne Forcier realized he didn't the system. So, in May, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound quarterback transferred to Stanford, where he will be coached by Harbaugh.
"When I committed (to Michigan), I knew the situation there," Forcier said this week. "I knew they were traditional drop-back quarterbacks, big guys. But I kind of had horse blinders on just because of the temptation this was my dream school.
"I have no regrets. I made many friends. I learned a lot. I keep in touch with all those people. No bridges burned over there."
Forcier's new coach burned some, infuriating Michigan when he questioned the football program's academics standards. Forcier wants no part of that debate, saying, "I've kept quiet. That's not me. I just do my thing. I'm happy to go to Stanford."
And Stanford is happy to have Forcier, who was named first-team all-state as a senior at St. Augustine High in San Diego.
Stanford offensive coordinator David Shaw called Forcier an "athletic, strong-armed, strong-willed" player.
"He's got an infectious personality," said Shaw, a receiver at Stanford in the early 1990s. "He gets respect from the guys when he steps in the huddle. That's a big part of being quarterback."
As a transfer, Forcier can practice this season but cannot play in games. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Sitting this fall won't be easy, Forcier said. But, he added, "I'm going to turn a negative into a positive and make this an opportunity to get stronger, faster and, coming into spring ball, know the playbook thoroughly, inside and out, so I can compete."
Forcier said he looked around the country before choosing Stanford. He knew Harbaugh from their days in San Diego Harbaugh was the coach at the University of San Diego and liked his intensity. He also liked Stanford's academic tradition and the fact the Cardinal plays in a Bowl Championship Series conference.
His early impression?
"I was on a pretty good team last year, and I notice the same focus and attitude that we had on that Michigan team," Forcier said.
MARECIC MAKING HIS MARK: Freshman Owen Marecic (6-1, 235) is getting most of the repetitions at first-team fullback as the Cardinal seeks to replace Emeka Nnoli, who has retired from football because of hip-related issues.
"He's doing a great job, getting better every day," Harbaugh said of Marecic. "He's one of those warrior-type guys. He's everything you want in a fullback."
A WORK IN PROGRESS: With slightly more than a week to go in training camp, Harbaugh wants his players to start stringing together good practices.
"It's not quite as consistent as I'd like to be," he said. "I have very high standards for what I think it should be. You just keep coaching, keep working at it."