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49ers in Five: Could Jim Harbaugh return to the NFL?

Joe Staley thinks a return to Indianapolis is possible

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The 49ers are no strangers to out-of-the-box coaching decisions. This is a team that fired Jim Harbaugh and replaced him with Jim Tomsula, after all. As the Colts embark on what will almost surely be a disastrous end of the season with the comically under-qualified Jeff Saturday as their head coach, Joe Staley was asked on KNBR if Harbaugh would return to the NFL to coach his former team.

“I would not be surprised. I definitely think that just knowing Jim, now I haven’t had much connection with him since he left the Niners and we didn’t speak about anything like this at the alumni weekend when I did see him, but just knowing him and his personality I do think that he wants to get back in the NFL.

I think it really gnaws at him that we weren’t able to win that Super Bowl championship. He’s the ultimate competitor. He’s a really competitive guy. He eats, breathes, sleeps football. It’s his whole entire life as a head coach and I think that he wants to be back in the right situation.

One of the reasons why I think it just failed here with the Niners when he was here was the relationship with [Trent] Baalke. The general manager head coach dynamic there wasn’t good as the seasons went on and it created some division. Unfortunately Jim got fired because of it.

I think if a situation like the Colts would arise where it’s basically a fresh start, clean house. Maybe he’s able to pick his general manager or just give him some kind of control over the roster building. I think that would be really enticing to someone like Harbaugh.

But I do know that he absolutely loves Michigan and they love him there. I have a lot of connections, obviously, growing up in Michigan and know people that follow the program pretty extensively there. He’s definitely well-loved in Michigan and I think they’d try really hard to keep Jim around.”

Michigan would surely pull out all the stops to keep Harbaugh in the maize and blue, but if the NFL really is where his heart truly lies, Colts owner Jim Irsay certainly has enough money to make it happen if he wanted to.

Personally, I’d love to see Jim Harbaugh back in the NFL. I just want him far, far away from the 49ers at all times. It’s hard enough to make it out of the NFC without having to go through Jim Harbaugh’s teams every year.

Hear more about this and other stories in today’s 49ers in Five podcast. Our five-minute daily update gives you the latest news, best audio clips, and everything else you need to know about the team. Subscribe to the Niners Nation Podcast Network today, so you don’t miss an episode!