Jim Harbaugh might be embroiled in controversy during this college football season, but his respect in the NFL remains high. After four years coaching the San Francisco 49ers, three of which he made the conference championship before a fallout with general manager Trent Baalke, his name is still discussed whenever there’s a new head coach opening.
The second head coach firing of the 2023 season happened on Monday. The Carolina Panthers decided not to lose any more time with Frank Reich, cutting ties with the former Indianapolis Colts coach after just 11 games. Reich became the first-ever head coach to be fired in consecutive seasons.
With the goal of developing Bryce Young and fixing most of the Panthers’ woes, former quarterback and current ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III penciled Jim Harbaugh as the perfect name to lead the Carolina Panthers from 2024 onwards:
Jim Harbaugh’s coaching record in NFL
During his four years with the 49ers, Harbaugh put up a respected 49-22-1 record, with an extra 5-3 record in the playoffs. He won the NFC West twice, but also made the playoffs one season in the wild card. In those three years, he got to at least the NFC Championship Game, losing to the New York Giants (2011) and the Seattle Seahawks (2013) but beating the Atlanta Falcons (2012).
Harbaugh is remembered for the instant changes he brought to the 49ers. He first had Alex Smith as his quarterback, with the 2005’s first-overall pick struggling badly in the league. Once Harbaugh took over, Smith’s career started to trend upward, and he became a quarterback good enough to spend another decade in the league.
Jim Harbaugh also made the call to permanently replace Smith with Colin Kaepernick midway through the 2012 season. The 49ers had a 6-2 record then, but the starter suffered a concussion and Kaepernick took over in a Monday Night Football game. His performance was so good, and he added so much to the offense as a runner, that the head coach decided to ride the rest of the season with him.
The 2012 season ended with family heartbreak. The 49ers made the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens, but lost that game 34-31. The Ravens were coached by John Harbaugh, Jim’s brother, who’s still their head coach to this day.