If fans wanted a point of embarkation in regarding to the pursuit of head coach Jim Harbaugh as a free agent, they got their wish when the San Francisco 49ers were rumored to likely dismissing him with “48 hours” of the season ending. That means within three or four days he will choose a new home and team to coach. It’s just a matter of figuring out which destination he goes for. The list has been narrowed to three primary possibilities.
- The University of Michigan. After two mediocre coaching tenures, the program is dead set on landing a credible name and Harbaugh, being an alum to their school would be the catch of the decade. His success at Stanford proved he can turn teams around quickly and the Wolverines are anxious to become relevant again in the Big Ten picture alongside rival Ohio State.
- The Oakland Raiders. Early indications were that Harbaugh’s family didn’t want to leave California, having built their home there first at Stanford and then in San Francisco. That is why Oakland makes a ton of sense. They are right across the bay, in need of a new coach and have serious interest in Harbaugh. On top of that they have a young, talented quarterback in Derek Carr that needs proper developing, something Harbaugh specializes in.
- The Chicago Bears. After one of the more disappointing seasons in franchise history, the team has come to realize how inadequate Marc Trestman is as a head coach given the lack of discipline his player exhibited in 2014. He hasn’t demonstrated the ability to lead, something Harbaugh has. Add in the fact that Harbaugh has deep ties to the organization from being a quarterback for them from 1987 to 1993 and developing a strong relationship with Mike Ditka over the years.
The subject of his future became the topic of discussion for the San Francisco Examiner, a prominent city newspaper. Their reporter Glenn Dickey believes Jim Harbaugh is staying in the NFL, which means it would come down to the Raiders or Bears. He feels on the surface Oakland is a good pick with their GM Reggie McKenzie, who is a football guy instead of the tech guys that inhabit the 49ers front office. However, there is one big catch.
“But there is one serious problem with the Raiders: owner Mark Davis. ”
“For a while, Mark Davis stuck with his decision, listening to Ron Wolf and John Madden. But being an NFL owner is a heady experience. He was being asked questions about the team and its future and, all of a sudden, he was making a trip to San Antonio, which ended with the mayor saying there was a 50-50 chance the Raiders would move there. In reality, there is no chance.”
“But Mark keeps hinting that the Raiders will move if they don’t get a new stadium. That isn’t going to happen, either. Incoming Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has said she is opposed to any public money going to a new football stadium. Taxpayers are still paying for improvements to the current structure.”
The feeling is Harbaugh won’t want to get involved in that ongoing soap opera. So the alternative is clear. Go to the Chicago Bears.
“With the Bears, Harbaugh could probably pick his general manager, who would be subordinate to him. Anybody who knows Harbaugh knows this would always be his first choice. I think he could even make a good quarterback out of Jay Cutler, who is talented but undisciplined.”
Much of this depends on how interested the Bears are in this happening. Signs indicate GM Phil Emery has a chance to save his job. If he escapes the ax, would Jim Harbaugh still be willing to come to Chicago? The picture isn’t quite clear yet but the buzz is building.