After a brief flirtation with the Broncos earlier this month, Jim Harbaugh tabled his pursuit of an NFL head-coaching job, emphatically committing to Michigan for the 2023 season. However, Harbaugh has remained in contact with the Broncos, quietly conducting an in-person interview with team brass last week. A convoy of Broncos representatives led by CEO and part-owner Gregg Penner made the trip to Michigan, gauging Harbaugh’s temperature amid a grueling interview process that has weeded out candidates such as Raheem Morris, David Shaw, Jim Caldwell, Ejiro Evero and Sean Payton, none of whom were granted second interviews.
Harbaugh’s reported sit-down ended without a formal offer, though the former NFL Coach of the Year remains “willing to listen,” with Denver among the few jobs he’d consider leaving Michigan for. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Broncos had expressed “strong interest” in 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, though he seems most intrigued by Houston, whom he played for from 2006-11. Former Falcons coach Dan Quinn was also on Denver’s short list, but removed his name from consideration last week, opting to return for his third season as Cowboys defensive coordinator. If all else fails, the Broncos could circle back to one of Eagles assistant Jonathan Gannon or Bengals OC Brian Callahan, both of whom were finalists during last year’s hiring cycle.
Harbaugh is coming off arguably his most successful season in Ann Arbor, leading the Wolverines to an undefeated regular season and their second consecutive College Football Playoff Berth, though they would ultimately fall to TCU in the semifinals. Harbaugh’s 74 victories at Michigan rank fourth in program history, trailing only Lloyd Carr, Fielding H. Yost and Hall-of-Famer Bo Schembechler.
Despite recently signing a five-year extension at his alma mater, it seems the 59-year-old would absolutely leave Michigan for the right opportunity, whether it’s Denver or elsewhere. Though he hasn’t coached at the NFL level since 2014 with San Francisco, Harbaugh would no doubt be a splashy hire for the Broncos, who are seeking a desperately-needed culture change after an embarrassing 5-12 season under Nathaniel Hackett.
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