Would Jim Harbaugh leave the 49ers for Michigan?
While the Niners’ brass has repeatedly denied that there is any friction between the team’s front office and its head coach, there has to be a reason Harbaugh has not yet signed an extension that will keep him in San Francisco beyond the 2015 season. Most coaches who were 36-11-1 in their first three seasons and reached the NFC Championship Game twice and Super Bowl once would have inked a new contract. But not Harbaugh, which is one of the reasons speculation is building that he could be interested in the Michigan job.
Michigan is 2-2 this season after losing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl last year and the Outback Bowl the year before. Brady Hoke is officially on the hot seat after being blown out by Notre Dame a couple of weeks ago and losing to Utah at home last weekend. As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio noted, Michigan — unlike NFL teams — could legally begin discussing business with Harbaugh as soon as they decide the Hoke era is over.
Though his record says otherwise, some insist Harbaugh is too strict and controlling to last in the NFL. There are already reports that Harbaugh is losing the Niners’ locker room because the players don’t feel they are treated with respect. While Harbaugh would likely have offers at the NFL level if he chose to leave San Francisco, there are few jobs in the country — both professional and collegiate — that are more appealing that the Michigan job.
Harbaugh’s personality and coaching style may be better suited for the college game. If the Niners end up missing the playoffs this season, he could realize that and act on it.