The rumors are nothing new. Jim Harbaugh returning to the NFL after a decade hiatus to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Teams being mentioned as potential landing spots for the former San Francisco 49ers headman have centered around the Los Angeles Chargers and the Raiders.
What is somewhat new is reported interest from the Los Angeles Chargers in hiring the Super Bowl head coach.
As for Harbaugh and his potential return to the NFL sidelines, Sportsnaut spoke with Michigan insider Aaron McCann of the Ann Arbor News. What McCann details is a growing belief that Harbaugh will leave the Wolverines after they take on the Washington Huskies in Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
“I think Jim Harbaugh wants to get back to the NFL,” McCann said. “He’s said as much a couple of years ago when he said there’s still kind of a goal of his to get back and win a Super Bowl.”
Harbaugh, 60, has continually flirted with a return to the NFL after he coached the 49ers to a tremendous amount of success from 2011-14, including three consecutive NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl appearance.
The changes we’ve seen relating to these rumors compared to previous cycles is the fact that Harbaugh is embroiled in controversy at the college level. He’s closing up shop on a 2023 season in which the head coach was suspended twice. That included recruiting violations to open the campaign and another suspension stemming from a videotaping scandal.
This, too, could play a role in Harbaugh’s decision-making process.
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“I think now it’d be the best time and I certainly think the investigation certainly plays a factor, absolutely,” McCann said of Jim Harbaugh. “So if you’re him and you’re looking at the situation as a whole and the potential for your roster, you know most of your roster leaving the NFL after this season, I got to think for him what better time than now to leave giving everything that’s going on with the investigations.”
Could Jim Harbaugh Actually Be Headed To The Los Angeles Chargers?
CBS Sports NFL insider Josina Anderson reported recently that Harbaugh is indeed near the top of the Chargers’ list to replace the recently fired Brandon Staley as their head coach.
It makes sense for a number of reasons. The Chargers’ brass is going to be looking for someone who is able to lift up franchise quarterback Justin Herbert. Harbaugh has a reputation working with quarterbacks in the past, including Andrew Luck at Stanford and Colin Kaepernick with the 49ers.
It must also be noted that Harbaugh has ties to the Southern California community and the Chargers. He coached with the University of San Diego from 2004-06. Harbaugh also ended his NFL playing career with the then-San Diego Chargers in 2000.
A marriage of this ilk makes sense for both sides. Whether something happens remains to be seen. Harbaugh will have interest from other teams, including the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders.
But if Los Angeles believes this is the man to lead the organization moving forward, an opportunity could very well present itself.