Los Angeles Chargers Hit Home Run, Hire Jim Harbaugh As Next Head Coach

Jim Harbaugh, Los Angeles Chargers
Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Los Angeles Chargers’ brass and their fans got exactly who they wanted to replace Brandon Staley as the team’s next head coach.

According to Adam Schefter, Los Angeles is hiring the well-regarded Jim Harbaugh to take over the responsibility of rebuilding this downtrodden organization from the sidelines.

Harbaugh’s contract has yet to be announced, but he is figured to become one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL. Terms were not initially disclosed.

To say that this hiring is a coup for the Chargers would be an understatement. Harbaugh, 60, just led the Michigan Wolverines to the college football title earlier in January. He has had success at every stop, starting with his stint as the head coach of the University of San Diego from 2004-06.

Harbaugh posted a stellar 89-25 record as Michigan’s head coach from 2016-2023. That came after a brilliant four-year run with the San Francisco 49ers in which Harbaugh went 44-19-1 with three NFC Championship Game appearances and a Super Bowl appearance.

Prior to that, Harbaugh posted a 29-21 record as Stanford’s head coach, including a 12-1 season in 2010 with Andrew Luck at quarterback.

Related: Los Angeles Chargers General Manager Candidates

Los Angeles Chargers Find Justin Herbert His Match In Jim Harbaugh

los angeles chargers hire jim harbaugh
Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

While Los Angeles’ search for a new head coach had consisted primarily of defensive-minded candidates, Harbaugh was the one outlier. It makes perfect sense with the Chargers having committed a five-year, $262.5 million contract extension to Justin Herbert ahead of the 2023 season.

Harbaugh’s body of work at the quarterback position is by now well-known.

That 2010 season with Stanford saw Luck complete nearly 71% of his passes for 3,338 yards with 32 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. It led to Luck being the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft of the Indianapolis Colts.

Harbaugh then turned Colin Kaepernick into a Super Bowl quarterback after the Nevada product was seen as a major project heading into the 2011 NFL Draft. Kaepernick led San Francisco to the big game as a sophomore after replacing Alex Smith mid-season. Kaepernick’s final two seasons with Harbaugh at the helm in San Francisco saw the quarterback tally 45 total touchdowns compared to just 18 interceptions.

We also saw J.J. McCarthy morph into a potential pro-level quarterback for Michigan this past season, throwing 22 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions.

Hiring Harbaugh was not solely about getting the most out of Herbert. But it played a huge role in both the Chargers’ decision-making process and Harbaugh’s own decision to choose Los Angeles over a host of other options.

The task doesn’t come close to ending here for Los Angeles. It now needs to find a general manager to replace the recently fired Tom Telesco.

One option is Tom Gamble. He worked in the 49ers’ front office under Trent Baalke when Harbaugh was in the organization. Gamble then joined Harbaugh in Ann Arbor as the Michigan director of player personnel.

For a head coach in Harbaugh who had a falling out with both Baalke and 49ers CEO Jed York in San Francisco, finding the right GM pairing now takes center stage.

Other potential candidates for the opening include Ed Dodds (Colts Assistant GM), Terrance Gray (Buffalo Bills), Ian Cunningham (Chicago Bears), Joe Hortiz (Baltimore Ravens), Brandon Brown (New York Giants), and current Chargers interim general manager JoJo Wooden.

For now, the Los Angeles Chargers and their fans can bask in the glory of getting their top target. Harbaugh will change the culture within the organization like he has done at every stop during his coaching career.