Jim Harbaugh and the Los Angeles Chargers reached an agreement on Wednesday for Harbaugh to take over as head coach of the team. Weeks after leading Michigan to its first national championship in 26 years, Harbaugh signs a contract with the Chargers. Ten years after playing four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (2011–2014), which he led to a Super Bowl appearance, Harbaugh, 60, is back in the NFL.
After taking a closer look, Chargers reporter Kris Rhim provides answers to four important queries regarding Harbaugh’s hiring, along with future developments. Front office analyst Mike Tannenbaum grades the hire, draft analyst Jordan Reid spins it forward to the draft, and national reporter Dan Graziano shares his impressions of the hire.
What made Harbaugh the Chargers’ choice?
Rhim: Owner Dean Spanos stated that the Chargers were “clearly not where we expect to be… and we need new vision” in his first public remarks following the firings of coach Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco. I was not willing to take the chance of doing nothing in the sake of continuity.”
Spanos’ decision to fire him during the season—the second in team history—demonstrates his belief in the Chargers’ chances of winning and how urgently the 73-year-old must win. With a track record of transforming mediocre teams into contenders and familiarity with the organization—he spent two seasons as the quarterback for the Chargers (1999–2000), Harbaugh was among the top choices this cycle.
What factors contributed to Harbaugh’s 49ers success, and will they apply in Los Angeles?
Rhim: The 49ers had dropped out of the elite division of the league and had missed the playoffs eight years in a row when Harbaugh joined the team. Former 49ers tight end Delanie Walker told the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast that during Harbaugh’s first team meeting, he told the players he would “burn the grass” to “get rid of the snakes.”
Walker claimed, “We were horrible because all we did was party every night and do what we wanted.” “With Jim, everyone started to change.”
The field soon displayed the changes. Before Harbaugh took over, the 49ers finished the season 6-10 but went on to win 13-3 and make it to the NFC Championship Game. With a Chargers team that team sources have described as disjointed and lacking in accountability for three seasons under Staley, Harbaugh’s style may work.