Wolverine’s have their coach for football. Jim Harbaugh was rumored for a long time to be strained in the relationship with the 49ers. Possibly issues with his grit and personality but the GM of the Niners stated they had philosophical differences. Who knows exactly what that means.
“… Don’t judge them by the stats, judge them by third-down efficiency, red zone productivity, end of halves, end of games – critical moments when quarterbacking becomes graduate level. And both Alex and Colin did not perform their best in those moments.”
WKU assistant (1994–2001)
During his final eight seasons in the NFL (1994–2001), Harbaugh was an NCAA-certified unpaid assistant coach under his father Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky University(WKU). Serving as an offensive consultant, he scouted and recruited high school student-athletes throughout several states including Florida, Indiana and Illinois. He was involved in recruiting 17 players on WKU’s 2002 Division I-AA national champion team. His father was a football coach for 18 years, including 14 years as head coach at WKU.
Harbaugh was quarterback coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2002 and 2003 under Bill Callahan. During his tenure with the Raiders, Harbaugh coached starting quarterbackRich Gannon, who led the Raiders’ run to Super Bowl XXXVII, won the 2002 AP NFL MVP award, and was selected to the 2003 Pro Bowl after the 2002 season. Other Raiders quarterbacks coached by Harbaugh include Rick Mirer, Tee Martin, Marques Tuiasosopo, and Rob Johnson.
Prior to the 2004 season, Harbaugh was named head football coach at the University of San Diego. In his first year, he directed the Toreros to an overall mark of 7–4, including 5 straight wins to end the season. The following year, the team improved to 11–1 and won the 2005 Pioneer Football League championship. In 2006, USD again went 11–1 winning their second consecutive Pioneer League title in the process.
Harbaugh was named the head football coach at Stanford University in December 2006, replacing Walt Harris. Harbaugh’s father, Jack, was Stanford’s defensive coordinator from 1980–1981, while Harbaugh attended Palo Alto High School, located directly across the street from Stanford Stadium. Harbaugh stirred some intra-conference controversy in March 2007, when he was quoted as saying rival USC head coach “Pete Carroll‘s only got one more year, though. He’ll be there one more year. That’s what I’ve heard. I heard it inside the staff.” Upon further questions, Harbaugh claimed he had heard it from staff at USC. The comment caused a rebuke from Carroll. (In fact, Carroll would be at USC for three more years.) At the Pacific-10 Conference media day on July 26, 2007, Harbaugh praised the Trojans, stating “There is no question in my mind that USC is the best team in the country and may be the best team in the history of college football.” The declaration, especially in light of his earlier comment, garnered more media attention. Later in the season, Stanford defeated #1 USC 24–23 with a touchdown in the final minute. With USC being the favorite by 41 points, it was statistically the greatest upset in college football history. Although Stanford lost to USC in 2008, Harbaugh and the Stanford Cardinal upset USC at home again with a score of 55–21 on November 14, 2009. Stanford’s 55 points was the most ever scored on USC in the Trojans’ history until Oregon scored 62 in a 62-51 win over USC on November 3, 2012. It was Pete Carroll‘s first November loss as USC head coach. Harbaugh has never lost in USC’s home stadium, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
In 2009, the Cardinal had a comeback season, finishing the regular season at 8–4, finishing #21 in the polls, and receiving an invitation to play in the 2009 Sun Bowl, the Cardinal’s first bowl appearance since 2001. Running back Toby Gerhart was named a Heisman Trophyfinalist, finishing second to Mark Ingram in the closest margin of voting in Heisman history. On December 13, 2009, Harbaugh was rewarded with a three-year contract extension through the 2014 season.
The 2010 season brought more success for Harbaugh and the Cardinal. The team went 11–1 in the regular season, with their only loss coming from Oregon, a team that was undefeated and earned a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. The first 11 win season in program history earned the Cardinal a #4 BCS ranking and a BCS bowl invitation to the Orange Bowl. Stanford defeated Virginia Tech 40–12 for the Cardinal’s first bowl win since 1996 and the first BCS bowl victory in program history. Second year starting quarterback Andrew Luck was the runner-up to for the Heisman Trophy, the second year in a row that the runner-up was from Stanford. Harbaugh was named the winner of the Woody Hayes Coach of the Year Award.
On January 7, 2011, four days after winning the Orange Bowl, Harbaugh agreed to a 5-year, $25 million contract to become the next head coach for the San Francisco 49ers.He succeeded Jim Tomsula, who was interim head coach for only the last game of the preceding season after succeeding the fired Mike Singletary. Though the 49ers were expected to struggle in what was anticipated to be a rebuilding season, with a new scheme and many new players as well as shortened summer practices due to the lockout, Harbaugh led the team to a 13–3 record in the regular season, winning the NFC West division while finishing second overall in the NFC and bringing the team to the NFC Championship Game. This was the first time the 49ers had made the playoffs since the 2002 NFL season, generating widespread praise. On November 24, Harbaugh played his brother John and the Baltimore Ravens, losing the Thanksgiving showdown 16–6. John and Jim Harbaugh are the first pair of brothers to serve as NFL head coaches in the same season.
Harbaugh’s work in San Francisco had resulted in an extremely successful season, revitalizing the career of quarterback Alex Smith and with defensive coordinator Vic Fangiocreating one of the leading defensive squads of the 2011–2012 season. The 49ers’ season ended with a 20–17 loss in overtime to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game. At the conclusion of the season, Harbaugh was named the AP NFL Coach of the Year.
In the 2012 season, Harbaugh resolved a quarterback controversy by replacing incumbent starter Alex Smith with backup Colin Kaepernick. Smith was ranked third in the NFL in passer rating (104.1), led the league in completion percentage (70%), and had been 19–5–1 as a starter under Harbaugh, while Kaepernick was considered more dynamic with his scrambling ability and arm strength. Smith began 2012 with a 6–2 record as a starter before suffering a concussion in the following game. He missed the following game, and Kaepernick was 16 for 23 for 243 yards with two touchdowns in a 32–7 win over Chicago. Harbaugh was impressed with Kaepernick, and said “we have two quarterbacks that have a hot hand” while dismissing any rule that a player should not lose their starting job due to an injury. Smith was medically cleared to play the day before the next game, but Harbaugh chose not to rush him back and again started Kaepernick, who threw and ran for a touchdown in a 31–21 win over New Orleans. The following week, Harbaugh announced that Kaepernick would start for the 8–2–1 49ers, while also stating that the assignment was week-to-week and not necessarily permanent. However, Kaepernick remained the starter as the 49ers again qualified for the playoffs.
Harbaugh led the team to an 11-4-1 record in the regular season, winning back to back NFC West titles. Harbaugh’s quarterback decision was on display in the first game of the playoffs. The 49ers won 45–31 over the Green Bay Packers, as Kaepernick had 444 yards of total offense (263 passing, 181 rushing) and four touchdowns. Kaepernick set the record for rushing yards by a quarterback in any NFL game with his 181-yard outburst against Green Bay. On January 20 at the NFC Championship Game, Harbaugh led the 49ers to a 28-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons, which sent the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII, and on February 3, Harbaugh faced his older brother, John Harbaugh and the Ravens in the Super Bowl. It was the first time two head coaching brothers met against each other in the Super Bowl, John Harbaugh and the Ravens won this game with a score of 34-31.
In the 2013 season, Harbaugh led his team to a 12–4 regular season record and a third consecutive appearance both in the playoffs and NFC title game. In doing so, Harbaugh became the first NFL head coach to have reached a conference championship game in each of his first three seasons. On October 5, 2014 it was rumored that Harbaugh will not return in 2015 regardless of the season’s outcome, though owner Jed York denied the claims.
Following an 8–8 season in 2014 where the 49ers failed to reach the playoffs for the first time with Harbaugh as their head coach, Harbaugh and the 49ers agreed to mutually part ways immediately after a win over the Arizona Cardinals in the final week of the regular season.
University of Michigan (2015–present)