Jim Harbaugh may not be able to avoid the controversy or penalties of Michigan's alleged sign-stealing scandal if he returns to the NFL this offseason. But the former 49ers head coach is already drawing interest from at least two NFL teams, per The Athletic.
Dianna Russini reported on Fox Sports this week that Harbaugh is "absolutely" a target among teams with potential head coaching vacancies entering the 2024 offseason, naming the Bears and Panthers as early suitors.
"(Panthers owner David) Tepper and Harbaugh had conversations last year," she said. "It obviously didn't pan out, but this was something that they discussed. ... That's a name I'm hearing again. The Chicago Bears are another organization ... (that has) had some conversations about that, depending on what decision they make with this coaching staff that is in place."
Carolina notably fired coach Frank Reich on Monday, just 11 games into Reich's first year on the job. The Bears, meanwhile, have gone 7-22 since hiring Matt Eberflus prior to the 2022 season, and Harbaugh has a history with the franchise, playing seven seasons for Chicago during his time as an NFL quarterback.
"Jim is certainly a name that is respected in league circles," Russini added. "(NFL) ownership is definitely interested in what he could bring back to the NFL."
Harbaugh, 59, has served two different suspensions at Michigan this year for alleged NCAA violations, but he's found success as both an NFL and college coach, going 83-25 in nine seasons with the Wolverines and 44-19-1 as 49ers coach from 2011-2014. He has hinted at a return to the NFL in recent years, reportedly speaking with the Broncos and Vikings about previous vacancies.
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