Bears would appeal to Jim Harbaugh if he rejoined NFL coaching sphere: report

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Bears would appeal to Jim Harbaugh if he rejoined NFL coaching sphere: report originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Speculation about Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh rejoining the NFL seems to be growing. Along with that, his interest in the Bears‘ head coaching job is reportedly … existent?

The Athletic‘s Mike Jones had this to say about Harbaugh’s future on Thursday:

“Harbaugh is among those expected to receive consideration in the next hiring cycle, according to a league source who has been briefed on discussions high-ranking NFL officials have had about potential head coach candidates. And two other league sources who regularly talk with teams about hiring and firing decisions said at least two teams — the Chicago Bears and Las Vegas Raiders — are believed to be among those that would appeal to Harbaugh.”

According to Jones’ report, there’s a belief in “NFL circles” that the Big Ten’s recent three-game suspension against Harbaugh could motivate the head coach to move back to the NFL. The Big Ten recently suspended Harbaugh for three games amid the NCAA’s ongoing sign-stealing investigation into Michigan football.

On Thursday, Harbaugh accepted the suspension and Michigan withdrew legal action. Harbaugh will not coach the team’s next two games against Maryland and Ohio State, but is eligible to coach the Big Ten championship, should the Wolverines qualify.

Still, Michigan fans are clamoring for the team to leave the Big Ten conference. Harbaugh & Co. weren’t content with the seemingly rash, hurried decision, either. The actions taken against Harbaugh could push him to move back to the NFL.

The last time Harbaugh expressed direct interest in returning to the NFL was when he interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings‘ head coaching vacancy back in February 2022. The Vikings never offered him and he later signed a five-year deal to remain with Michigan.

“There was a pull to the NFL because I got that close to the Super Bowl,” Harbaugh said then, via Jones’ report, “but this was the time (to try and return). And this is the last time. Now let’s go chase college football’s greatest prize.”

From the Bears’ perspective, the team is in a hole. Expected to improve from their league-worst season last year, the Bears are 3-7. Most importantly, they haven’t proven successful in developing Justin Fields, who’s missed the last four games with a thumb injury.

Many have pegged the Bears’ shortcomings on head coach Matt Eberflus this season. Currently, the Bears own the No. 19 ranked offense and No. 27 defense, the latter of which Eberflus is directly responsible for.

There are other reasons behind Eberflus’ demise, too. Two coaches from Eberflus’ staff have been fired this season, which is seemingly unheard of during an NFL season. They failed to make anything of the Chase Claypool trade, which, in essence, cost the Bears a first-round pick. The list goes on and on. Eberflus’s head coaching record is 6-21.

Insert Harbaugh, who not only is one of the more renowned football minds of this generation of coaches, but has robust connections within the Bears’ organization. He knows CEO/President Kevin Warren from Warren’s days as the Big Ten commissioner. Plus, Harbaugh was the Bears’ signal caller for seven seasons between 1987-93.

The Bears drafted Harbaugh out of Michigan with the No. 26 pick in the 1987 NFL draft. He recorded over 11,000 yards, 50 touchdowns and 56 interceptions in 89 games in Chicago.

Since Harbaugh began his coaching career, he’s seen great success, including his first stint in the NFL. He brought the Colin Kaepernick-led San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, which they lost to his brother, John, and the Baltimore Ravens. There could be added motivation to notch the Super Bowl ring he never won.

The question is — would he want to try that in Chicago?

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