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Recent Updates on Jim Harbaugh

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The Chargers have joined the Raiders and Panthers by making an in-season head coach firing. That adds them to the list of clubs on the lookout for a replacement during (or in advance of) a hiring cycle which figures to have a few big-name candidates.

One of those could be Jim Harbaugh. The former 49ers bench boss has not been in the NFL since he took charge of Michigan in 2015. A new deal with the Wolverines could be in play, something which would mark an end to the latest round of speculation pointing to an NFL return. People around the league remain convinced Harbaugh does have his eyes on the pro ranks, though, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes.

Harbaugh has been met with two separate three-game suspensions this season, but Michigan’s sign-stealing scheme is not believed to be a hindrance to his prospects of taking an NFL job. Once again, the 59-year-old has been connected to a number of openings with his future in question. Reports have pointed to a 2024 return, but no firm decision has been made at this point.

On that note, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes Harbaugh will wait until after the upcoming College Football Playoff has concluded. Ranked No. 1 in the country, the Wolverines have a strong chance of winning a national title for the first time under Harbaugh, who could pursue unfinished business by returning to the NFL. He led to 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012, but came up short of a Lombardi Trophy during his four-year tenure in San Francisco.

Still, Harbaugh’s track record in the NFL, along with his stints at Stanford and Michigan, have made him a high-profile coaching candidate. He interviewed with the Vikings in 2022, and met with the Broncos before any other HC prospect in Denver’s search this offseason. That process was followed by a new commitment to remaining at Michigan, but Harbaugh has unsurprisingly been linked to numerous openings – both amongst teams which have a vacancy and those which are presumed to make a change this offseason – around the league.

Prior to dismissing Staley earlier today, the Chargers showed informal interest. Outkick’s Armando Salguero reports a “Spanos family confidant” reached out to people connected to Harbaugh before reporting back to the Chargers’ owners. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of that backdoor inquiry with Los Angeles now on the lookout for a new coach.

Unlike coordinators currently under contract in the NFL, Harbaugh is a candidate not subject to the rules related to when prospective coaches are allowed to be interviewed for HC positions. As a result, he can agree to join an NFL staff at any time, though his attention will remain on Michigan’s title hopes in the coming weeks. In any event, Harbaugh’s name will remain on the front burner for the time being.

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