Jim Harbaugh is on the line for NFL coaching again… or is he? Fresh out of Michigan for his first college football playoff appearance, rumors have it that Harbaugh, who went to a Super Bowl while coaching the 49ers from 2011 to 2014, is eager to return to professional play.
Most of them have been attached to a single team, the Raiders. But this team, which resigned Jon Gruden during the season, is primarily concerned with Saturday’s playoff game in Cincinnati under the guidance of interim leader Rich Bisaccia.
Now that Harbaugh’s name has resurfaced to join his brother’s ranks, other teams looking for new coaches after “Black Monday” should be wondering if they can really face him. Here is a ranking of the openings in terms of what can keep Harbaugh continuing to have a high level of success while being drawn away from his alma mater:
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Jim Harbaugh’s 2022 NFL Ranking
1. Chicago bears
Oddly enough, the 49ers are the team that employed two former Bears star players, Harbaugh and Mike Singletary. The Bears, who fired Matt Nagy, must do what they can to get Harbaugh back to his first NFL home, the franchise that drafted him as a first-round quarterback in 1987. Bring back Michigan on the edge of the championships is one thing, but rediscovering the glory days of the Bears and pushing them past the Packers is another.
Harbaugh could also do wonders for sophomore QB Justin Fields, who would come with the bonus of turning a former Ohio State star into a dynamic NFL double threat under his watch. Harbaugh has finally solved the Buckeyes and may think he can leave Michigan in a good place. The Bears badly need his keen sense and influence.
2. The Denver Broncos
The Broncos don’t have a reliable franchise quarterback for second-year general manager George Paton, but that should be part of the draw for Harbaugh. Denver has just fired its former defensive coordinator in San Francisco, Vic Fangio. There are dynamic offensive skill weapons (Javonte Williams, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Tim Patrick) and a solid line in place and the Broncos have done well in their quick defensive rebuild. The Broncos could be the last team to truly be a “better QB” far from winning big, much like the 2019 Buccaneers before Tom Brady. John Elway should be prepared to make an offer to Mile High that his fellow ’80s and’ 90s playoff passer can’t refuse.
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3. The giants of New York
The Giants played the jury and executioners on Joe Judge after two seasons. This adds another intriguing destination for Harbaugh, given that they have Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, decent defense and some great draft capital to come. Also expect offensive line upgrades soon. They aren’t ideal for Habaugh now, but they can be in a hurry. New York provides a big name destination and another huge market like Chicago that Harbaugh can handle well given he was through all the pressure in Michigan long before the big breakthrough. John Mara and Steve Tisch would be crazy not to at least make several calls to him.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
What? Harbaugh after Urban Meyer’s flop? On the one hand, Harbaugh has finally solved Meyer’s old college schedule and should be intrigued to show why he’s superior to professionally training than his hated former rival. On the other hand, he’s out of the question for him to work with GM Trent Baalke again. Unless the Jags agree to replace Baalke with whomever Harbaugh says he wants, there’s no way Shad Khan will even consider going down the college route. It’s a shame, because Harbaugh with Trevor Lawrence would be interesting to watch.
5. Miami Dolphins
So let’s get the ball rolling: Owner Stephen Ross, a well-known successful Michigan product like Harbaugh, would rather Harbaugh train their common alma mater so his Wolverine Saturdays can stay enjoyable instead of wanting to earn more Dolphins Sundays with it. Harbaugh? And didn’t he have someone of Harbaugh’s level in mind when he fired Brian Flores way too early? Other than the connection to Michigan and the allure of working with Tua Tagovailoa, there’s little reason to be a part of this Miami mess.
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6. Minnesota Vikings
Will Harbaugh be the new man for the Minnesota Vikings? No. It won’t look “good as hell” leaving Ann Arbor for the Twin Cities, when he inherits former Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins, who won’t be long for the franchise, and a defense in need of a massive overhaul minus Mike Zimmer. Additionally, Minnesota ownership has also rushed a bit to part ways with Rick Spielman, one of the league’s top general managers when it comes to talent acquisition. Harbaugh won’t get the support he needs. Better beat the other Minnesota for a lot more Little Brown Jug.
7. The Adventurers of Las Vegas
Jackpot, baby? Although the team is already sending it back to the ’80s with “The NFL Today” icon Brent Musburger calling his games in Las Vegas, let’s hope Harbaugh doesn’t really “look live” taking the job out of the way. Raiders to replace another top leader, Jon Gruden. Harbaugh would leave Michigan … to work with Derek Carr? And continue to try to understand Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and the new QB Broncos franchise for several years to come? Damn no. Las Vegas isn’t even the best AFC West destination for Harbaugh (see Denver above). The only reason to do so is if Harbaugh wants to retire to the wilderness in his sixties.