The Jim Harbaugh derby for NFL teams is about to heat up.
A week after leading the University of Michigan to a national title, Harbaugh will meet with the Los Angeles Chargers about their head coaching vacancy this week, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Sunday because the person wasn't at liberty to publicly discuss personnel moves.
Harbaugh — who went 44-19-1 in four seasons as San Francisco's coach and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season — has a prior relationship with the Chargers and the Spanos family that owns the team. He played quarterback for the Bolts from 1999-2000.
The Chargers are looking for a coach and general manager after Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco were fired on Dec. 15, a day after a 63-21 loss at Las Vegas.
While Harbaugh is exploring his NFL options, he also is considering staying at Michigan, a person familiar with his thinking told the AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.
When asked about possible interest in the NFL and then about the Chargers during an availability at Disneyland before the Rose Bowl on Dec. 27, Harbaugh gave the same answer to both questions.
“Such a one-track mind. That’s the way we’re going about things. Literally, whatever day we’re in, looking to get the most out of it, dominate the day, then we’re going to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow and see if we can’t dominate that day," he said. "It’s a single-minded group. Just very focused on taking care of business today and see if we can’t do the same tomorrow.”
Harbaugh has spent the last week decompressing after the Wolverines beat Washington 34-13 in the College Football Playoff title game last Monday. Michigan held a celebratory parade on Saturday.
The 60-year-old Harbaugh has an 89-25 record in nine seasons at Michigan. Harbaugh’s tenure at his alma mater has lasted longer than some expected when he was hired in 2015. He coached San Diego University for three seasons (2004-06), Stanford for four (2007-10) and the 49ers for four (2010-2014).
Harbaugh was offered a 10-year, $125 million contact by Michigan that included a clause stating he could not entertain NFL offers this offseason.
To prepare for a possible NFL return, Harbaugh recently hired Don Yee as his agent. Yee is known for his representation of another famous Michigan quarterback — seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady — but the Pasadena-based agent also represents Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton, who was the most sought-after coaching free agent last year.
Harbaugh has not hidden his interest in a possible return to the NFL. His brother, John, is the longtime coach of the Baltimore Ravens, who beat Jim Harbaugh's 49ers in the Super Bowl after the 2012 season.
Despite leading Michigan to its first national title since 1997, it was a frustrating year for Harbaugh. He was suspended for the first three games by the NCAA because the association concluded he misled investigators.
Harbaugh then was suspended for the final three regular-season games by the Big Ten over allegations of sign-stealing and in-person scouting.
Michigan has received a notice of allegations for NCAA violations related to recruiting during the pandemic.
The Chargers have conducted seven interviews for their head coaching job already, with former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier becoming the latest on Sunday.
They interviewed interim coach Giff Smith and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore on Tuesday, Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham on Thursday and Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken on Friday. On Saturday, they interviewed two defensive coordinators — San Francisco's Steve Wilks and Baltimore's Mike Macdonald.
Even though Monken, Wilks and Macdonald are part of playoff teams, they were allowed to interview virtually under the league's revised policy since their teams have byes this week as the top seeds in their respective conferences.
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.
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