NFL rumors: Team doing extensive work on Jim Harbaugh for head coach in 2021

By Matt Johnson
Nov 28, 2020; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh on the sideline in the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lionsat Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL rumors are flying with the 2020 regular season nearing a conclusion as teams prepare to make huge changes this offseason. With plenty of head coaching vacancies expected, it seems the interest in Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh is picking up.

Even coming off another disappointing season with the Wolverines, Harbaugh remains the talk of the NFL. With a few spots already open and more coming after Week 17, teams are reportedly already getting to work on finding their next head coach.

NFL rumors: Jim Harbaugh eyeing return to NFL?

Now, just a few years after he burned bridges with the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Harbaugh could return to the NFL.

NFL rumors: Jim Harbaugh being looked into for coaching job

According to FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, one NFL team has already contacted the 49ers to gain some first-hand knowledge about Jim Harbaugh. Specifically, they want to know what it was like for ownership, the front office and players to work with the eccentric head coach.

Harbaugh has certainly developed a reputation in NFL circles, even with just a few seasons at the highest level. Despite his reputation for clashing with team executives and causing some friction within the organization, his results at the highest level are attractive.

San Francisco hired him away from Stanford in 2011, confident that he could bring results to help turn the team around. Following a 6-10 season in 2010, Harbaugh took over the 49ers and the team immediately went 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship Game. The instant turnaround earned him the NFL’s Coach of the Year honors and instantly made him one of the league’s biggest stars.

The 49ers went 11-4-1 the following season, reaching the Super Bowl behind an excellent defense and a breakout year from Colin Kaepernick. San Francisco made it to Super Bowl XLVII, losing in the final minutes to John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens.

NFL rumors: Five best landing spots for Jim Harbaugh

Across four seasons in the Bay Area, Harbaugh’s club posted a 44-19-1 record and won five playoff games, with three NFC Championship Game appearances. The resume easily made him one of the winningest coaches during his time in the NFL, but he found a way to make the 49ers delighted to rid themselves of him after he accepted the Michigan coaching job.

NFL rumors: Jim Harbaugh’s rocky coaching career with San Francisco 49ers

NFL rumors
Sep 21, 2019; Madison, WI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh looks on during the first quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

NFL coaching candidates: Top options to become head coach in 2021

After years of living in the basement of the NFL standings, the 49ers were desperate to become an NFL power once again. It’s why they hired Harbaugh in the first place and they were pleased with the results on the scoreboard. However, he quickly burned bridges in San Francisco to the point where the relationship couldn’t be saved.

Harbaugh left the 49ers with both sides feeling resentful towards one another. Of course, it came as no surprise when he took repeated jabs at the club in the years since his departure. Harbaugh took shots at the organization and applauded himself for putting up with them.

Not to be outdone, 49ers CEO Jed York has also thrown some subtle blows at Harbaugh. He did it immediately after the pair parted ways, he even did it when Harbaugh was still employed.

While York has shown some willingness to put the problems behind them, Harbaugh is known for carrying grudges. Plus, his work since taking over at Michigan leaves a lot to be desired.

If Harbaugh returns to the NFL in 2021, it will take an owner and front office willing to put up with a lot. The results could be great, but history has shown Harbaugh eventually wears out his welcome with those around him.

In the end, teams might be better off hiring the head coach who routinely owned Harbaugh’s Wolverines when they went head-to-head every year.