Report: Many believe Jim Harbaugh could make NFL return this year

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read

Many people in NFL circles reportedly believe that University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh could make a return to the league this year.

“Jim Harbaugh’s name has percolated in league circles, with many believing this might be the year he takes the plunge back in the NFL,” Jeremy Fowler wrote. “The sign-stealing suspension at Michigan looms large, and winning a national title with the Wolverines would make leaving the program almost poetic. He very well might want personnel power to accompany coaching duties, but he’d have a clear advantage in talking with teams that, per NFL rules, must wait until after the divisional round of the playoffs to interview candidates currently employed by NFL teams. Harbaugh isn’t beholden by those rules and is free to talk now.”

Earlier this month, Harbaugh received a three-game suspension from the Big Ten due to a sign-stealing scandal.

Los Angeles Lakers star forward LeBron James — who is a fan of the Ohio State University football team — took a subtle shot at Harbaugh earlier in the month when he said that the Lakers were able to “steal some signals” against the Phoenix Suns and head coach Frank Vogel.

While Harbaugh has experienced quite a bit of success as a head coach both in the professional and collegiate ranks, he hasn’t coached an NFL team for some time. His most recent season as an NFL head coach was all the way back in 2014 when he coached the San Francisco 49ers to an 8-8 regular-season record.

Harbaugh coached the 49ers for four seasons from the 2011 season through the 2014 season. He led the 49ers to an impressive 44-19-1 regular-season record during that span.

Perhaps his best season as the head coach of the 49ers came during his second season with the team, the 2012 season. The 2012 49ers finished the regular season with an 11-4-1 record and managed to make it all the way to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens by a final score of 34-31.

After the end of the 2014 regular season, Harbaugh left the 49ers and was replaced by Jim Tomsula, who coached the team to a poor 5-11 record the following season. Tomsula’s stint with the team was brief, as he was fired after just one season and replaced with Chip Kelly.

Only time will tell if Harbaugh does indeed make his return to the NFL’s coaching ranks this year or not. But it might be difficult for him to make a return, considering the sign-stealing scandal at Michigan that he was allegedly involved in.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.