Harbaugh in August 2010
San Francisco 49ers
|Date of birth:December 23, 1963|
|Place of birth: Toledo, Ohio|
|High school: Palo Alto (CA)|
|NFL Draft: 1987 / Round: 1 / Pick: 26|
|Debuted in 1987 for the Chicago Bears|
|Last played in 2000 for the San Diego Chargers|
|Coaching debut in 1994 for the WKU Hilltoppers|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Head coaching record
James Joseph "Jim" Harbaugh (//; born December 23, 1963) is a former professional football player for the National Football League (NFL), and the current head coach of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. Harbaugh was a quarterback in the National Football League. He played college football at the University of Michigan, and was in the NFL for 14 seasons, from 1987 to 2000. Harbaugh has been a head coach since 2004, beginning at the University of San Diego for three seasons. He moved up the coast to Stanford University of the Pac-10 in 2007, and after four seasons, to the 49ers in 2011.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Harbaugh's father Jack was a football coach, and the family lived in Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa, Michigan, and California. He attended high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Palo Alto, California, when his father was an assistant coach at Michigan and Stanford. After graduation from high school in Palo Alto in 1982, Harbaugh returned to Ann Arbor and enrolled at the University of Michigan and played quarterback for the Wolverines, starting for three seasons. As a fifth-year senior in 1986, he led Michigan to the 1987 Rose Bowl and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing third.
The Chicago Bears selected Harbaugh in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft. He played 14 years as a quarterback in the NFL, with Chicago from 1987 to 1993, the Indianapolis Colts from 1994 to 1997, the Baltimore Ravens in 1998, and the San Diego Chargers in 1999 and 2000. He first became a regular starting quarterback in 1990 with Chicago. In 1995 with Indianapolis, he led the Colts to the AFC Championship Game, was selected to the Pro Bowl and was honored as NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
From 1994 to 2001, while still playing in the NFL, Harbaugh was an unpaid assistant coach at Western Kentucky University, where his father Jack was head coach. In 2002, he returned to the NFL as the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders. Harbaugh returned to the college ranks in 2004 as the head coach at the University of San Diego. After leading San Diego to consecutive Pioneer League championships in 2005 and 2006, he moved up to Stanford in 2007 for four seasons and led the Cardinal to two bowl berths, including the 2011 Orange Bowl. Immediately afterward, Harbaugh signed a five-year deal as head coach of the NFL San Francisco 49ers, where he led the team to playoff wins in each of his first three seasons. He and his older brother, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, became the first pair of brothers to serve as head coaches in NFL history. Their teams played in a Thanksgiving Classic game in 2011 and Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013.
- 1 Early life
- 2 College playing career
- 3 NFL playing career
- 3.1 Chicago Bears (1987–1993)
- 3.2 Indianapolis Colts (1994–1997)
- 3.3 Baltimore Ravens (1998)
- 3.4 San Diego Chargers (1999–2000)
- 3.5 Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers (2001)
- 3.6 Legacy
- 3.7 Career passing stats
- 4 Coaching career
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Head coaching record
- 7 Coaching tree
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Harbaugh is the son of Jacqueline M. "Jackie" (née Cipiti) and Jack Avon Harbaugh. His mother is of half-Sicilian and half-Polish descent, and his father has Irish and German ancestry. Both Jim and his brother John were born in Toledo as his father Jack was an assistant football coach at nearby Perrysburg High School in Perrysburg.
Jack was an assistant coach in many college football programs, including the University of Michigan. Jim played for the junior league Ann Arbor Packers and then for Tappan Junior High before moving on to Pioneer High School. When Jack became defensive coordinator at Stanford in 1980, Jim transferred to Palo Alto High School in California, graduating in 1982.
College playing career
Harbaugh returned to Ann Arbor and was a four-year letterman at the University of Michigan, finishing his college career in the top five in passing attempts, completions, completion percentage, passing yards and touchdown passes in school history. He was the starting quarterback for his last three years at Michigan under head coach Bo Schembechler, although he broke his arm five games into the 1984 season and was out for the rest of his sophomore year. As a junior in 1985, he came back to lead the nation in passing efficiency as quarterback of one of Schembechler's best teams. The 1985 team posted a 10–1–1 record, defeated Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl and finished second in the nation in the Division I-A (now FBS) polls, the highest finish for Michigan during Schembechler's tenure as head coach. As a senior in 1986, he guided Michigan to an 11–2 record (which included the victory he had guaranteed over arch-rival Ohio State which Michigan won 26–24 on the road in Columbus) and a berth in the 1987 Rose Bowl. He was honored as Big Ten Conference Player of the Year and finished third in the Heisman balloting. He was also named to the Big Ten's All-Academic team and the 1986 AP and UPI All-American teams. He held the career NCAA Division I-A passing efficiency record (325–399 completions) for 12 years, leading the nation in passing efficiency in 1985. Harbaugh earned a B.A. in communications from Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts in 1986.
Career passing stats
Career rushing statistics
NFL playing career
Chicago Bears (1987–1993)
The Chicago Bears selected Harbaugh in the first round (26th overall) of the 1987 NFL Draft, picking a quarterback in the first round against experts' prior speculation that the team would select a defensive lineman or wide receiver in that round. He played that season under coach Mike Ditka, starting poorly by completing only 1 of 15 passes in an August 27 exhibition game against the Phoenix Cardinals. In the regular season, his rookie season, which was marred by a players' strike that canceled games for a single weekend, he played in a reserve capacity in only six games. In Week 10 (November 22), a 30-10 win over the Detroit Lions, Harbaugh took only one snap and was sacked for 15 yards. In the Week 13 41-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on December 14, he came back to throw his first NFL passes completing 8 of 11 for 62 yards, was sacked 3 times for 30 yards, and rushed 15 yards on 3 carries. He was inactive for the Bears' NFC Divisional game, a 21-17 loss to Doug Williams, Joe Gibbs and the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins.
Harbaugh played 10 games in 1988 and completed 47 of 97 passes for 514 yards and 2 interceptions. He also rushed 110 yards on 19 carries. Harbaugh started his first game on Week 14 (December 5), a 23-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in which he completed 11 of 30 passes for 108 yards and 2 interceptions, rushed 32 yards on 6 carries, and was sacked twice for 9 yards. The following game on December 12, Harbaugh earned his first win as an NFL starter with a 13-12 victory over the Detroit Lions. Harbaugh completed 18 of 26 passes for 174 yards and rushed 36 yards in 7 carries.
Harbaugh saw more playing time in 1989 after Jim McMahon left the team and started 5 games for Chicago while Mike Tomczak started 11 in a 6-10 season for Chicago. 1989 was his first season with over 1,000 passing yards, completing 111 of 178 passes in 12 games for 1,204 yards for 5 touchdowns and 9 interceptions and was sacked 18 times for 106 yards. His 62.4% completion rate earned him the team record for single-season completion percentage.
In 1990, Harbaugh played and started in the first 14 games of the season. Chicago improved to 11-5 and won the NFC Central division, and Harbaugh passed for 2,178 yards with 180 of 312 passes completed for 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He was sacked 31 times for 206 yards and rushed 321 yards in 51 carries. Due to a shoulder injury, Harbaugh sat out the last two games of the year as well as the playoffs.
Harbaugh passed for a career-high 3,121 yards with Chicago in 1991 and became the first Chicago quarterback since Vince Evans to start all 16 regular season games. He completed 275 of 478 passes for 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, was sacked 24 times for a loss of 163 yards, and rushed 338 yards on 70 carries. Chicago finished the season 11-5 like the year before, but in second place in the NFC Central. On December 29, 1991, he made his postseason debut in the NFC Wild Card game, a 17-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Dallas defense overwhelmed him throughout the game, sacking him three times; and in the final drive of the game that started from Chicago's 4-yard line with 1:50 left, he threw an interception to Bill Bates on the fourth play from scrimmage.
Chicago regressed to a 5-11 record in 1992, and the team fired coach Ditka afterwards. Harbaugh played all 16 games but started only 13 and had a 5-8 record as starter. He completed 202 of 358 passes for 2,486 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, was sacked 31 times for 167 yards, and rushed 272 yards over 47 carries, including one rushing touchdown.
In 1993, Chicago went 7-9. Harbaugh played in and started 15 games and completed 200 of 325 passes for 2,002 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He was sacked 43 times for 210 yards and rushed 277 yards over 60 carries. Harbaugh ended his tenure with Chicago with a 35-30 (.538) record.
Indianapolis Colts (1994–1997)
On April 7, 1994, Harbaugh signed with the Indianapolis Colts. He played and started in just nine games in the 1994 Colts season, completing 125 of 202 passes for 1,440 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Harbaugh took 17 sacks for 72 yards and rushed 223 yards over 39 carries. For the first eight games, Harbaugh was starter, and coach Ted Marchibroda re-instated Harbaugh as starter for Week 15 (December 18) after Indianapolis struggled on offense under quarterback Don Majkowski.
In 1995, Harbaugh achieved career highs in completion percentage (63.7), passer rating (100.7), and touchdown passes (17) and led Indianapolis to the AFC Championship Game. Harbaugh played 15 games in the regular season and started 12, with a 7-5 record as starter in a 9-7 team. Harbaugh completed 200 of 314 passes for 2,575 yards and just 5 interceptions with his 17 touchdowns and was sacked 36 times for 219 yards. In 52 carries, Harbaugh rushed for 235 yards and two touchdowns. But he strained his right knee after being sacked six times and left the Week 14 (December 3) game against the Carolina Panthers in the third quarter.
Indianapolis lost to defending AFC champion San Diego Chargers in Week 16 (December 17) 27-24, with John Carney kicking the winning field goal with 3 seconds left after Harbaugh's drive with three straight passes had led to Cary Blanchard's field goal that tied the game at 24 with 48 seconds left.
In the season finale on December 23, Harbaugh's 32nd birthday, Indianapolis clinched a playoff berth with a 10-7 win over the New England Patriots. Completing 20 of 30 passes, he threw for 225 yards and a touchdown.
On December 31, 1995, in the AFC wild card game against San Diego, Harbaugh scored on a 3-yard quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter after a 32-yard interception return by Jason Belser and Indianapolis won 35-20. Indianapolis won the divisional round game on January 7, 1996 over the Kansas City Chiefs 10-7, despite only 112 passing yards (with 12 of 27 passes completed, 1 touchdown and 1 interception) from Harbaugh. In the AFC Championship Game on January 14, Harbaugh completed 21 of 33 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown and rushed 29 yards on 6 carries. But Aaron Bailey dropped Harbaugh's last-second Hail Mary pass in the endzone, and the Pittsburgh Steelers won 20-16 and went on to Super Bowl XXX, which they lost to the Dallas Cowboys. For the season, he was voted to the Pro Bowl, was named Comeback Player of the Year and AFC Player of the Year, and was runner-up in the voting for NFL MVP.
With new coach Lindy Infante, Indianapolis again finished 9-7 and made the playoffs in 1996 with Harbaugh as signal caller. Harbaugh played and started in 14 games with a 7-7 record; he completed 232 of 405 passes for 2,630 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions, with 36 sacks for 190 yards lost and 192 rushing yards on 48 carries and a touchdown. Defending AFC Conference Champion Pittsburgh Steelers defeated Indianapolis in the Wild Card round 42-14 as Harbaugh completed only 37.5% of his passes (12 of 32) for 134 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.
Indianapolis fell to 3-13 in 1997. Despite passing for 2,060 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions in 12 games and 189-for-309 passing, Harbaugh had a 2-9 record as starter. Harbaugh was sacked 41 times for a career-high 256 yards lost.
Baltimore Ravens (1998)
On February 14, 1998, the Indianapolis Colts traded Harbaugh to the Baltimore Ravens for third-round and fourth-round draft picks in the 1998 NFL Draft. With that trade, Harbaugh reunited with his former Colts coach Ted Marchibroda. During the 1998 season with Baltimore, Harbaugh played in 14 games and started 12, with a 5-7 record as starter in a 6-10 season for the Ravens. Harbaugh completed 164 of 293 passes for 1,839 yards, just his third season with fewer than 2,000 passing yards since 1989. He had 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in passing, was sacked 23 times for 145 yards, and rushed 172 yards on 40 carries.
The Ravens opened a new stadium for 1998, Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards (renamed M&T Bank Stadium in 2003). Starting the game in Week 1 (September 6) and completing 4 of 7 passes for 33 yards, Harbaugh left during the second quarter after injuring a finger, and with backup Eric Zeier in for Harbaugh, Baltimore lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-13. Baltimore won its next game 24-10 over the New York Jets on September 13; Harbaugh started and made 5 of 10 passes for 36 yards but again left early and was replaced by Zeier due to injury. Coach Marchibroda again split quarterbacking duties in the following game on September 21, a 24-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, with Harbaugh starting and Zeier taking over during the second quarter. With 4 of 9 passes completed for 59 yards, Harbaugh led a drive for a Matt Stover first quarter field goal.
Harbaugh then sat out two games and played as Zeier's backup for Weeks 6 (October 18) and 7 (October 25). Those two games had poor performances: Harbaugh completed none of six passes and had one 3-yard rush in the Week 6 loss to Pittsburgh. Despite only 9 of 20 passes completed and two interceptions in the Week 7 28-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Harbaugh made his first passing touchdown as a Raven, a 46-yard pass to Jermaine Lewis in the fourth quarter. In the next game on Week 8 (November 1), Harbaugh improved in his first full game, with 27 of 34 passes completed over 243 yards for 3 touchdowns and 1 interception and 57 rushing yards in 10 carries. In Week 9 (November 8), with Baltimore winning 13-10 over the Oakland Raiders, Harbaugh got his first win in a full game started despite passing for only 102 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. In the final two drives of the game, Harbaugh made crucial first-down conversion passes of a 28-yard pass to Jermaine Lewis and 10- and 11-yard passes to Michael Jackson. In Week 12 (November 29), a 38-31 win over the Indianapolis Colts, Harbaugh had his first interception-free full game, with 16-for-25 passing over 198 yards for 2 touchdowns. It was the Colts first trip back to Baltimore after the team left it for Indianapolis. In an emotional moment, Harbaugh presented Johnny Unitas with the game ball.
Referee Ed Hochuli called a controversial unnecessary roughness penalty against Joe Bowden in Baltimore's 16-14 loss to the Tennessee Oilers for his hit on Harbaugh on a 2nd-and-24 play with Tennessee leading 14-13 after his 9-yard scramble towards the sideline, ruling that Harbaugh was in bounds when hit. On 3rd-and-15in the next series, however, Harbaugh was sacked and Baltimore was forced to punt, so that the penalty didn't hurt the Oilers. Harbaugh completed 15 of 28 passes for 214 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception and rushed 22 yards over 5 carries. After a three-game losing streak, Harbaugh won the final game of the season (and his final game with Baltimore) on December 27, 19-10 over the Detroit Lions with 17 of 26 passes completed for 141 yards and a touchdown.
San Diego Chargers (1999–2000)
Harbaugh then played two years with the San Diego Chargers. In the 1999 season, Harbaugh started 12 games out of 14 played and had a 6-6 record as starter in an 8-8 season. Harbaugh completed 249 of 434 passes for 2,761 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He was sacked 37 times for a total loss of 208 yards and rushed for 126 yards over 34 carries.
In his debut with San Diego in the September 19 season opener (Week 2), Harbaugh threw two touchdowns in 15-for-27 passing over 159 yards in a 34-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. However, San Diego lost the next game to Harbaugh's former team Indianapolis Colts 27-19, as Harbaugh completed 15 of 37 passes for 188 yards. With very few seconds left and on the Colts' 24, Harbaugh threw an interception to Tyrone Poole. Harbaugh started the Week 4 (October 3) game against the Kansas City Chiefs completing 6 of 9 passes for 38 yards and an interception before leaving due to a bruised right elbow; he missed the Week 5 (October 10) and Week 6 (October 17) games because of that injury and two broken ribs. Harbaugh returned in Week 7 (October 24) in a 31-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers as backup to starter Erik Kramer; both quarterbacks threw 3 interceptions each. Harbaugh next started a game on Week 9 (November 7) and completed 25 of 39 passes for 235 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions and rushed 14 yards in 2 carries in a 33-17 loss to defending champion Denver Broncos. The Chargers lost its sixth game in a row after a 4-1 start in Week 12 (November 28) to the Minnesota Vikings 35-27. Robert Griffith intercepted a Harbaugh pass at the Vikings' 1-yard line with 4:29 left, and Minnesota ran out the clock to seal the win.
A 12-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins on December 19 (Week 15) disqualified the Chargers from the postseason. Miami's defense sacked Harbaugh five times, and Rich Owens strip-sacked Harbaugh at San Diego's 20-yard line. Harbaugh finished the game with 20 of 40 passes completed for 178 yards. With 17 seconds left, Chris Penn caught Harbaugh's attempt at a game-winning touchdown pass albeit slightly outside the back of the end zone. John Carney missed a game-tying 36-yard field goal. After failing to make a passing touchdown for three games, Harbaugh made two passing touchdowns and just one interception on 23-for-36 passing over 325 yards in San Diego's 23-20 win over the Oakland Raiders on the home finale on December 26 (Week 16).
Following an 8-8 season in 1999, San Diego finished 1-15 in 2000 with a rotation of Ryan Leaf, Harbaugh, and Moses Moreno as starters. Playing in seven games and starting five, Harbaugh completed 123 of 202 passes for 1,416 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, was sacked 14 times for 96 yards, and rushed 24 yards on 16 carries.
Harbaugh played his first game in Week 4 (September 24), a 20-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. On 8-for-14 passing, Harbaugh passed for 67 yards and an interception. He became starter in Week 5 (October 1). In the 57-31 loss to defending champion St. Louis Rams, Harbaugh was 27-for-40 for 348 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception and was sacked 3 times for 15 yards. Starting the Week 6 (October 8) game, a 21-7 loss the Denver Broncos, Harbaugh was 18-for-43 for 237 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. Two of Harbaugh's interceptions led to short Denver touchdowns, and Harbaugh threw his third interception on fourth-and-goal at Denver's 5-yard line. In Week 7 (October 15), an overtime 27-24 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Harbaugh's second interception of the game, by Henry Jones, was in overtime and paved way for Steve Christie's game-winning field goal. Following the game, coach Mike Riley said he regretted rotating between Harbaugh and Moses Moreno in the first half, as Moreno lost two fumbles, one of which Buffalo returned for a touchdown.
San Diego had an ESPN Sunday Night Football game in Week 9 (October 29) following a bye week, lost to the Oakland Raiders 15-13, and fell to 0-8. San Diego took a 13-12 lead with 5:47 left after Harbaugh made a 21-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Jones, but failed the two-point conversion attempt paving the way for the Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski to kick the winning field goal with 13 seconds left. In the final play of the game, following a 47-yard kickoff return by Ronney Jenkins, Marquez Pope intercepted Harbaugh's attempt at a 50-yard Hail Mary pass that was intended for Trevor Gaylor in the end zone. In that game, Harbaugh completed 25 of 35 passes for 222 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception and was sacked 3 times for 27 yards. The following game on November 5 (Week 10), San Diego lost its ninth straight in a 15-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. In the second quarter, Harbaugh lost two fumbles, both of which preceded 10-yard Seattle passing touchdowns. Having completed 22 of 32 passes for 236 yards, 1 touchown, and 1 interception, he left the game after the third quarter due to groin and abdomen injuries.
Harbaugh played what would be his final career game in Week 11 (November 12), a 17-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins. In the final drive of the game he filled in poorly for an injured Ryan Leaf, completing only 2 of 5 passes for 19 yards and throwing an interception. By that time, coach Riley had relegated Harbaugh to emergency duty due to injuries including a mild hernia. Riley had planned to start Harbaugh for the next game on Week 12 (November 19), but decided to start Leaf instead.
Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers (2001)
Harbaugh signed with the Detroit Lions prior to the 2001 season, where he was expected to back up incumbent starter Charlie Batch. However, on the eve of the regular season, the Lions cut him and traded for Ty Detmer. He then closed out his NFL career with the Carolina Panthers in 2001, where he dressed for 6 games but didn't play. The 2001 Panthers, like the Chargers the year before, finished with a 1–15 record.
For his NFL career, Harbaugh played in 177 league games with 140 starts. He completed 2,305 of 3,918 passes for 26,288 yards with 129 touchdowns. Particularly during his time with Indianapolis, such as when he led the Colts to come-from-behind wins over the Chiefs and Chargers in the 1995–96 NFL playoffs and a near upset over the No. 2 AFC seed Steelers, he earned the nickname "Captain Comeback" (the second player to be so nicknamed after Roger Staubach) for his ability to win games in the fourth quarter when his team was significantly behind.
Harbaugh is 2nd in the Bears' record book for completions with 1,023, while Jay Cutler holds the record with 1,034. Harbaugh also ranks second with 1,759 attempts and third in yards with 11,567. In January 2005, he was inducted into the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor as one of the most successful and popular players in the club's Indianapolis era.
Career passing stats
WKU assistant (1994–2001)
During his final eight seasons in the NFL (1994–2001), Harbaugh was an NCAA-certified unpaid assistant coach under his father Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky University (WKU). Serving as an offensive consultant, he scouted and recruited high school student-athletes throughout several states including Florida, Indiana and Illinois. He was involved in recruiting 17 players on WKU's 2002 Division I-AA national champion team. His father was a football coach for 18 years, including 14 years as head coach at WKU.
Oakland Raiders assistant (2002–2003)
Harbaugh was quarterback coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2002 and 2003 under Bill Callahan. During his tenure with the Raiders, Harbaugh coached starting quarterback Rich Gannon, who led the Raiders' run to Super Bowl XXXVII, won the 2002 AP NFL MVP award, and was selected to the 2003 Pro Bowl after the 2002 season. Other Raiders quarterbacks coached by Harbaugh include Rick Mirer, Tee Martin, Marques Tuiasosopo, and Rob Johnson.
University of San Diego (2004–2006)
Prior to the 2004 season, Harbaugh was named head football coach at the University of San Diego. In his first year, he directed the Toreros to an overall mark of 7–4, including 5 straight wins to end the season. The following year, the team improved to 11–1 and won the 2005 Pioneer Football League Championship. In 2006, USD again went 11–1 winning their second consecutive Pioneer League title in the process.
Stanford University (2007–2010)
Harbaugh was named the head football coach at Stanford University in December 2006, replacing Walt Harris. Harbaugh's father, Jack, was Stanford's defensive coordinator from 1980–1981, while Harbaugh attended Palo Alto High School, located directly across the street from Stanford Stadium.
Harbaugh stirred some intra-conference controversy in March 2007, when he was quoted as saying rival USC head coach "Pete Carroll's only got one more year, though. He'll be there one more year. That's what I've heard. I heard it inside the staff." Upon further questions, Harbaugh claimed he had heard it from staff at USC. The comment caused a rebuke from Carroll. (In fact, Carroll would be at USC for three more years.) At the Pacific-10 Conference media day on July 26, 2007, Harbaugh praised the Trojans, stating "There is no question in my mind that USC is the best team in the country and may be the best team in the history of college football." The declaration, especially in light of his earlier comment, garnered more media attention. Later in the season, Stanford defeated #1 USC 24–23 with a touchdown in the final minute. With USC being the favorite by 41 points, it was statistically the greatest upset in college football history. Although Stanford lost to USC in 2008, Harbaugh and the Stanford Cardinal upset USC at home again with a score of 55–21 on November 14, 2009. Stanford's 55 points was the most ever scored on USC in the Trojans' history until Oregon scored 62 in a 62-51 win over USC on November 3, 2012. It was Pete Carroll's first November loss as USC head coach. Harbaugh has never lost in USC's home stadium, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
In 2009, the Cardinal had a comeback season, finishing the regular season at 8–4, finishing #21 in the polls, and receiving an invitation to play in the 2009 Sun Bowl, the Cardinal's first bowl appearance since 2001. Running back Toby Gerhart was named a Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing second to Mark Ingram in the closest margin of voting in Heisman history. On December 13, 2009, Harbaugh was rewarded with a three-year contract extension through the 2014 season.
The 2010 season brought more success for Harbaugh and the Cardinal. The team went 11–1 in the regular season, with their only loss coming from Oregon, a team that was undefeated and earned a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. The first 11 win season in program history earned the Cardinal a #4 BCS ranking and a BCS bowl invitation to the Orange Bowl. Stanford defeated Virginia Tech 40–12 for the Cardinal's first bowl win since 1996 and the first BCS bowl victory in program history. Second year starting quarterback Andrew Luck was the runner-up to for the Heisman Trophy, the second year in a row that the runner-up was from Stanford. Harbaugh was named the winner of the Woody Hayes Coach of the Year Award.
San Francisco 49ers (2011–present)
On January 7, 2011, four days after winning the Orange Bowl, Harbaugh agreed to a 5-year, $25 million contract to become the next head coach for the San Francisco 49ers. He succeeded Jim Tomsula, who was interim head coach for only the last game of the preceding season after succeeding the fired Mike Singletary. Though the 49ers were expected to struggle in what was anticipated to be a rebuilding season, with a new scheme and many new players as well as shortened summer practices due to the lockout, Harbaugh led the team to a 13–3 record in the regular season, winning the NFC West division while finishing second overall in the NFC and bringing the team to the NFC Championship Game. This was the first time the 49ers had made the playoffs since the 2002 NFL season, generating widespread praise. On November 24, Harbaugh played his brother John and the Baltimore Ravens, losing the Thanksgiving showdown 16–6. John and Jim Harbaugh are the first pair of brothers to serve as NFL head coaches in the same season.
Harbaugh's work in San Francisco had resulted in an extremely successful season, revitalizing the career of quarterback Alex Smith and with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio creating one of the leading defensive squads of the 2011–2012 season. The 49ers' season ended with a 20–17 loss in overtime to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game. At the conclusion of the season, Harbaugh was named the AP NFL Coach of the Year.
In the 2012 season, Harbaugh resolved a quarterback controversy by replacing incumbent starter Alex Smith with backup Colin Kaepernick. Smith was ranked third in the NFL in passer rating (104.1), led the league in completion percentage (70%), and had been 19–5–1 as a starter under Harbaugh, while Kaepernick was considered more dynamic with his scrambling ability and arm strength. Smith began 2012 with a 6–2 record as a starter before suffering a concussion in the following game. He missed the following game, and Kaepernick was 16 for 23 for 243 yards with two touchdowns in a 32–7 win over Chicago. Harbaugh was impressed with Kaepernick, and said "we have two quarterbacks that have a hot hand" while dismissing any rule that a player should not lose their starting job due to an injury. Smith was medically cleared to play the day before the next game, but Harbaugh chose not to rush him back and again started Kaepernick, who threw and ran for a touchdown in a 31–21 win over New Orleans. The following week, Harbaugh announced that Kaepernick would start for the 8–2–1 49ers, while also stating that the assignment was week-to-week and not necessarily permanent. However, Kaepernick remained the starter as the 49ers again qualified for the playoffs.
Harbaugh led the team to an 11-4-1 record in the regular season, winning back to back NFC West titles. Harbaugh's quarterback decision was on display in the first game of the playoffs. The 49ers won 45–31 over the Green Bay Packers, as Kaepernick had 444 yards of total offense (263 passing, 181 rushing) and four touchdowns. Kaepernick set the record for rushing yards by a quarterback in any NFL game with his 181-yard outburst against Green Bay. On January 20 at the NFC Championship Game, Harbaugh led the 49ers to a 28-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons, which sent the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII, and on February 3, Harbaugh faced his older brother, John Harbaugh and the Ravens in the Super Bowl. It was the first time two head coaching brothers met against each other in the Super Bowl, John Harbaugh and the Ravens won this game with a score of 34-31.
In the 2013 season, Harbaugh led his team to a 12-4 regular season record and a third consecutive appearance both in the playoffs and NFC title game. In doing so, Harbaugh became the first NFL head coach to have reached a conference championship game in each of his first three seasons.
Harbaugh comes from a coaching family, and is the son of college football coach Jack Harbaugh.
Harbaugh has six children. From his first marriage to Miah Harbaugh (m. 1996–2006), he has sons Jay (a graduate of Oregon State University and is the Offensive Quality Control for the Baltimore Ravens with his uncle John Harbaugh), and James, and daughter Grace. From his second marriage to Sarah Feuerborn Harbaugh (m. 2008), he has two daughters, Addison and Katherine, as well as a new baby son, Jack (named after his grandfather). Harbaugh is a devout Roman Catholic who has done charity work in Piura, Peru.
He has been very active in community service ventures. He has been actively involved with the Harbaugh Hill Foundation, the Riley Hospital, Western Kentucky University, the Jim Harbaugh Foundation, the Uhlich's Children's Home and the Children's Miracle Network.
In 1996, Harbaugh made an appearance on the popular TV show "Saved by the Bell", playing the cousin of Screech, the character played by actor Dustin Diamond.
Harbaugh is co-owner of Panther Racing in the IndyCar Series. The main car for the team carries Harbaugh's old jersey number, 4. When the team won the 2001 and 2002 IRL championship, the team, which had the option of going to #1, chose instead to keep the #4 for its association with Harbaugh's career.
Head coaching record
|San Diego Toreros (Pioneer Football League) (2004–2006)|
|Stanford Cardinal (Pacific-10 Conference) (2007–2010)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|†Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game. #Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|SF||2011||13||3||0||.813||1st in NFC West||1||1||.500||Lost to New York Giants in NFC Championship Game|
|SF||2012||11||4||1||.719||1st in NFC West||2||1||.667||Lost to Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII|
|SF||2013||12||4||0||.750||2nd in NFC West||2||1||.667||Lost to Seattle Seahawks in NFC Championship Game|
Harbaugh's assistant coaches who have become NCAA Division I head coaches:
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