After watching Stanford’s 40-12 victory over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Monday I was convinced that Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh should become the next 49ers head coach. The way Harbaugh handled himself after the game showed how professional he is and how much he respects the game of football and his players. He refused to be on the receiving end of a Gatorade dunk at the end of the game and when he was asked about his coaching future he responded with “Respect the game.” Harbaugh no doubt will be the target of many teams both in the pro and college ranks so the 49ers will need to make a good pitch to convince him to turn around the once proud franchise. I think the 49ers job intrigues Harbaugh’s with how much talent they have on offense and defense and with him already living in the Bay Area being the coach at Stanford.
Harbaugh has no head coaching experience in the NFL but he did spend two years with the Oakland Raiders from 2002-2003. In 2002 Harbaugh, as offensive assistant coach, was a big reason why Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and the team advanced to Super Bowl XXXVII. The 49ers badly need someone who has had head coaching experience in the NFL but with Harbaugh he might be the exception. He has a track record of turning around teams and has a great eye for evaluating talent. In 2005 and 2006 Harbaugh turned University of San Diego into a Division I-AA powerhouse winning the Pioneer Football League Championship two years in a row. At Stanford it only took two years for him to turn the Cardinal football team around and into a threat in college football. Stanford has been to two straight bowl games the last two seasons with this year’s team winning the Orange Bowl and finishing with a 12-1 record. Harbaugh’s eye for talent can be seen in his recruiting of players to Stanford which has rigorous academic standards for athletes. Among the numerous players he has recruited two standout the most: Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck who both finished second in Heisman voting the last two years.
No doubt the 49ers will need Harbaugh’s eye for talent as the 49ers look for their franchise quarterback. With the number seventh pick in the 2011 draft a quality quarterback will most likely be available. Harbaugh’s passion will be good for the 49ers players but it is his offensive knowledge where he will be most valuable. The last two 49ers head coaches had defensive knowledge with little experience with the offense.