Former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who is currently at the helm of the University of Michigan’s football program, appears on the cusp of returning to the NFL this offseason. While Harbaugh remained at Michigan instead of pursuing the Vikings' head coaching job last offseason, it seems like he may be more open to a move after reaching the College Football Playoff this season.
Harbaugh was the 49ers' head coach from 2011-2014, leading the Niners to their most successful three-year run of the 21st century. Harbaugh made the postseason in three of his four seasons, winning the NFC West twice, reaching three NFC Championship games, and one Super Bowl. His 44-19-1 record remains one of the best win-loss records of any NFL head coach.
Since the Niners moved on from Harbaugh, he returned to his alma mater Michigan and has helped the football program reach new heights. He has a 74-25 record in eight seasons as the Wolverines' head coach.
While former Saints head coach Sean Payton could also be one of Denver’s top targets, Payton’s rights are still controlled by New Orleans, which means any team that wanted to hire him would have to trade them a package of players and/or draft picks.
Since the Broncos already traded significant draft capital for quarterback Russell Wilson, that would seem to make Harbaugh a better fit than Payton.
Mike Andrews and Will Kunkel of Queen City News reported that the Carolina Panthers also have their eyes on Harbaugh. In fact, Harbaugh has already had a conversation with Panthers owner David Tepper about the open position.
The Indianapolis Colts, and other teams who will move on from their head coach this offseason, could also become a feasible fit for Harbaugh, although they seem like long shots at the moment.