The Oakland Raiders are reported to be going all in to land Jim Harbaugh, the San Francisco 49ers head coach believed to be on his way out as soon as the 49ers conclude their disappointing 2014 season against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, Sunday.
As reported earlier by the Inquisitr, Harbaugh — the former Stanford University coach who has helmed the 49ers since 2011, taking the team to three NFC championship games and a Super Bowl in his four years in San Francisco — is believed to have already reached a deal to return to the college ranks, accepting a six-year, $48 million offer from the University of Michigan, his own alma mater.
But Harbaugh graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1982, then returned to Palo Alto to coach the Stanford Cardinal in 2007, moving to the 49ers in 2011, meaning he has remained in the Bay Area for eight years.
So will a lavish financial offer from the Oakland Raiders, plus the lure of keeping his family at home, be enough to persuade Harbaugh to reverse course and spurn the alleged Michigan offer after all?
The once-proud Raiders, who have not won more than eight games in a season since 2002, and who would need to pull off an unlikely upset of AFC West champion Denver Sunday just to finish 2014 at 4-12 — are desperate to turn their fortunes around. They attempted to bring back former coach Jon Gruden, who led them to two straight playoff appearances in 2000 and 2001. But Gruden opted to remain in the ESPN broadcast booth.
According to a report in the Washington Post Sunday, “Several agents who represent coaches said in recent weeks they believe the Raiders will not be outbid financially for Harbaugh, even with Michigan’s lucrative reported offer.”
But how much do agents really know? Reportedly, Harbaugh has kept his own agent, David Dunn, largely on the sidelines throughout the Michigan process, and plans to use the agent only to finalize his contract with whatever team finally lands his services.
The remote possibility even remains that Harbaugh would reverse his preseason pledge to abandon the 49ers no matter what after the 2014 season, and choose to fulfill the final year of his five-year contract with the team.
While sources have said that Jim Harbaugh prefers the pro game and would rather remain in the NFL, Michigan had an advantage in its ability to approach Harbaugh during the season, while the Oakland Raiders must wait until the conclusion of Week 17 play to even ask the 49ers for permission to speak with Harbaugh.