NFL Rumors: Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh, Broncos Have 'Strong Mutual Interest'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 14, 2023

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31:  Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh runs onto the field before the VRBO Fiesta Bowl college football national championship semifinal game between the Michigan Wolverines and the TCU Horned Frogs on December 31, 2022 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There is "some strong mutual interest" between Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Denver Broncos, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network on Saturday's edition of NFL Total Access (2:45 mark).

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

The <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLGameDay?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLGameDay</a> Notebook with <a href="https://twitter.com/MikeGarafolo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MikeGarafolo</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/TomPelissero?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TomPelissero</a>: Playing <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Chargers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Chargers</a> WR Mike Williams and others was an organizational decision; <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rams?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Rams</a> coach Sean McVay is back and could add Mike LaFleur; A big week for Sean Payton; Jim Harbaugh is a strong candidate for the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Broncos?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Broncos</a>. <a href="https://t.co/1AYji6SyYo">pic.twitter.com/1AYji6SyYo</a>

"As far as Harbaugh and the Broncos, there is some strong mutual interest here, guys," Rapoport said. "Not saying it's going to happen, but at least both sides like each other."

Harbaugh and the Broncos met virtually for two hours early this past week, per Rapoport. He further noted that Michigan is still trying to lock Harbaugh up, leaving "at least a chance" for him to return to the Wolverines.

He's not the only head coach on the radar for the Broncos, who are coming off a 5-12 season that featured a parting of ways with first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett after a 4-11 start and an ugly 54-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas Day.

Rapoport mentioned that there appears to be "three main candidates" on the Broncos' radar: Harbaugh, ex-New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

It's easy to see why the Broncos like Harbaugh, an NFL quarterback from 1987-2001 who found success at all four of his head coaching stops.

His first one was with Division I-FCS University of San Diego, which went 29-6 from 2004-2006 under his watch. He then went on to Stanford, which was a major rebuilding project after the Cardinal endured a 1-11 season in 2006.

The team slowly improved under Harbaugh and ended up going 12-1 with an Orange Bowl win and No. 4 Associated Press poll ranking by the time his tenure ended.

Harbaugh then made the jump to the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, who went 6-10 the year before his arrival. San Francisco immediately jumped to a 13-3 mark in Harbaugh's first year and proceeded to go 44-19-1 from 2011-2014. The 49ers made the NFC Championship Game three times and the Super Bowl once.

Harbaugh has been at his alma mater since 2015 and has led the Wolverines to back-to-back Big Ten titles and College Football Playoff appearances.

He, Payton or Quinn would have a tall task in Denver after the Broncos finished dead last in scoring in 2022, but Harbaugh has shown an innate ability to turn teams around everywhere he's gone.