Harbaugh at a press conference in 2014
|Date of birth:||December 23, 1963|
|Place of birth:||Toledo, Ohio|
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||215 lb (98 kg)|
|High school:||Palo Alto (CA)|
|NFL Draft:||1987 / Round: 1 / Pick: 26|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career highlights and awards|
As head coach:
|Career NFL statistics|
|Head coaching record|
|Regular season:||44–19–1 (.695) (NFL)|
|Postseason:||5–3 (.625) (NFL)
2–2 (.500) (college)
|Career:||49–22–1 (.688) (NFL)
83-34 (.709) (college)
James Joseph Harbaugh (//; born December 23, 1963) is the head football coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines and is a former quarterback. He played college football at Michigan for coach Bo Schembechler from 1983 to 1986 and played in the National Football League (NFL) for 14 seasons from 1987 to 2000. He then served as the head coach of the San Diego Toreros (2004–2006), the Stanford Cardinal (2007–2010), and the NFL's San Francisco 49ers (2011–2014). In 2015, Harbaugh returned to his alma mater, Michigan.
Harbaugh was born in Toledo, Ohio. His father, Jack Harbaugh, 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, respectively. 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 to 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 to Stanford in 2007, where he led the Cardinal to two bowl berths in four seasons, including the 2011 Orange Bowl. Immediately afterward, Harbaugh signed a five-year deal as head coach of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, where he led the team to the NFC Championship game 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 on February 3, 2013.
Born in Toledo, Ohio on December 23, 1963, Harbaugh is the son of Jacqueline M. "Jackie" (née Cipiti) and Jack Harbaugh. His mother is of half-Sicilian and half-Polish ancestry and his father has Irish and German ancestry. Both Jim and his brother John were born in Toledo, while his father was an assistant football coach at nearby Perrysburg High School in Perrysburg.
During Harbaugh's childhood, the family moved frequently, as his father held assistant coaching positions at Morehead State (1967), Bowling Green (1967–1970), Iowa (1971–1973), Michigan (1973–1979), Stanford (1980–1981), and Western Michigan (1982–1986). Harbaugh played for the junior league Ann Arbor Packers and then for Tappan Junior High before moving on to Pioneer High School. When his father became defensive coordinator at Stanford, he transferred to Palo Alto High School, graduating in 1982.
As a true freshman in 1982, Harbaugh, at age 18, and junior Dave Hall were backups to quarterback Steve Smith, who had broken Michigan's single season record with 2,335 yards of total offense in 1981. In the 1982 season, Smith started all 12 games, and Hall handled the limited backup role. Even as Smith struggled, coach Schembechler expressed a reluctance to play Harbaugh, saying, "To suddenly pull some freshman out of the bag, I don't think you can do that in today's football." Harbaugh did not see any game action in 1982, registered no statistics, and retained four years of eligibility under the NCAA's redshirt rule.
Harbaugh performed well in the annual spring game in April 1983, completing 10 of 15 passes for 116 yards. After the game, coach Schembechler noted, "Harbaugh is a fresh talent who'll be all right, but he has a lot to learn." While Harbaugh was touted as the team's "pass-oriented quarterback of the future," he spent the 1983 season as Michigan's No. 3 quarterback behind Steve Smith and Dave Hall. Smith started 11 games, and Hall started one game, while Harbaugh completed two of five passes for 40 yards in limited action. Harbaugh completed his first pass for Michigan on November 5, 1983, in a 42-10 victory over Purdue.
In the spring of 1984, Harbaugh was in a three-way competition for Michigan's starting quarterback job. Three-year starter Steve Smith had graduated, and his backup, Dave Hall, was lost to a knee injury. The 1983 competition pitted Harbaugh against sophomores Chris Zurbrugg and Russ Rein. In April 1984, Schembechler said, "Harbaugh is coming along pretty well. He's having a pretty good spring. Zurbrugg has emerged as a good prospect. There's kind of a battle in there." In the 1984 spring game, Harbaugh impressed observers as he completed 17 of 26 passes for 161 yards and an interception. Schembechler said after the game, "We've been happy with Jim all spring. He's shown a lot of maturity." After spring practice, Schembechler announced his depth chart with Harbaugh as his No. 1 quarterback.
In his first collegiate start, Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a 22–14 upset victory over a Miami Hurricanes team that was led by Bernie Kosar, had won the 1983 national championship, and was ranked No. 1 in both the AP and UPI polls. Harbaugh completed 11 of 21 passes for 162 yards and two interceptions. The Detroit Free Press praised Harbaugh for "pinpoint passing" that "kept Miami's defense on the run."
In his second start, the Wolverines (ranked No. 3) lost to a Washington team that finished the season ranked No. 2 in both the AP and UPI polls. Harbaugh threw a career-high 37 passes in the game, completing 17 passes for 183 yards, three interceptions, and his first collegiate touchdown pass to Vince Bean.
After the loss to Washington, Harbaugh led Michigan to victories over Wisconsin (20–14) and Indiana (14–6). Harbaugh completed 25 of 39 passes for 272 yards in those games. On October 6, 1984, a 19–7 loss to Michigan State in the fifth game of the season, Harbaugh sustained a badly broken left arm in the third quarter when he dove for a loose ball and collided with Spartan linebacker Thomas Tyree. Harbaugh had to be carried from the field on a stretcher and missed the remainder of the season. Harbaugh completed 60 of 111 passes for 718 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions during his shortened 1984 season.
By April 1985, Harbaugh's arm had healed, and he completed 10 of 16 passes for 146 yards in the annual spring game. Harbaugh was the starting quarterback in all 12 games for the 1985 Michigan Wolverines football team that compiled a 10–1–1 record, outscored opponents 342 to 98, defeated Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl, and finished the season ranked No. 2 in the final AP and UPI polls.
On October 26, 1985, Harbaugh set a school record with 283 passing yards in a 42–15 victory over Indiana. After the game, Harbaugh was asked for his reaction to setting the school's passing record and responded, "Records are nice, but everything we do here is team oriented. Everyone's telling me about the record, but they should tell it to Paul Jokisch and Eric Kattus and John Kolesar. They caught the passes."
On November 16, 1985, in a 48-7 victory over Minnesota, Harbaugh completed 13 of 18 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. After the game, Harbaugh praised the offensive line, noting, "I've never had more time to throw in my life—junior high, high school." Harbaugh's 13 completions against Minnesota gave him 123 for the season, breaking the school record of 118 set by Steve Smith in 1982.
On November 23, 1985, Harbaugh led Michigan to a 27–17 victory over Ohio State. In the fourth quarter, Harbaugh completed a 77-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver John Kolesar, giving Michigan a 10-point lead with nine minutes remaining. Coach Schembechler said after the game that the 77-yard touchdown was "a play that took the starch right out of their sails." Columnist Mitch Albom wrote after the game that Harbaugh's pass to Kolesar was an image that would last: "The image that repeats will be that of Jim Harbaugh dropping back in the fourth quarter and uncorking a soaring spiral that rose high and long as flanker John Kolesar ran underneath it, his steps seemingly in sync with the revolutions of the ball, so when it fell, it fell right into his arms, almost gently . . ." Harbaugh completed 16 of 19 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns.
In the final three games of the 1985 regular season, Harbaugh completed 41 of 50 passes for 706 yards, nine touchdowns, and no interceptions. For the season as a whole, he completed 145 of 227 passes for 1,976 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also led the nation with a 163.7 passing efficiency rating in 1985.
In 1986, his final season at Michigan, Harbaugh started all 13 games at quarterback for the 1986 Michigan Wolverines football team that compiled an 11–2 record, lost to Arizona State in the 1987 Rose Bowl, and finished the season ranked No. 8 in the final AP Poll and No. 7 in the final UPI Poll.
In the first game of the season, Harbaugh led Michigan to a 24–23 victory over Notre Dame. Harbaugh completed 15 of 23 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown.
Harbaugh caused controversy when he guaranteed a victory over Ohio State in 1986. Harbaugh's guarantee proved valid as the Wolverines defeated the Buckeyes, 26–24. Harbaugh completed 19 of 29 passes with two interceptions.
For the season, Harbaugh completed 180 of 277 passes for 2,729 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. His 2,729 passing yards set a Michigan season record that stood until 2002. He also finished second in the country in passing efficiency behind Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde. Harbaugh won numerous honors in 1986 including the following:
Harbaugh finished his college career as Michigan's all-time record holder for passing yards with 5,449 yards. He also tallied 620 passing attempts (second in Michigan history at the time), 387 completions, a 62.4% completion percentage, 31 touchdown passes (third in Michigan history at the time), and 22 interceptions. He held the career NCAA Division I-A passing efficiency record (149.6) for 12 years. Harbaugh earned a B.A. in communications from Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts in 1986.
The Chicago Bears selected Harbaugh in the first round (26th overall) of the 1987 NFL Draft. During the 1987 season, playing under head coach Mike Ditka, Harbaugh completed only one of 15 passes in an August 27 exhibition game against the Arizona Cardinals. During the regular season, he played in a reserve capacity in six games. On November 22, in a 30–10 win over the Detroit Lions, Harbaugh took only one snap and was sacked for 15 yards. On December 14, in a 41–0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Harbaugh threw his first NFL passes, completing eight of 11 for 62 yards, was sacked 3 times for 30 yards, and rushed 15 yards on three carries.
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 five 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 (including a franchise-record 9 times on Oct 25 against Minnesota) 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. As of 2017[update], however, his franchise records for completions (22), attempts (44) and yards per game in the 1991 postseason (218) still stood.
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.
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 for 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 regular 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 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.
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 20, 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 7 (October 18) and 8 (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-15 in the next series, however, Harbaugh was sacked and Baltimore was forced to punt, so 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.
Harbaugh 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.
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 second 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.
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.
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.
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. Harbaugh is widely considered the greatest coach in the history of the university.
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 to 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 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.
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. Prior to Harbaugh's arrival, the 49ers had not had a winning season nor a playoff win since 2002.
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 that the opposing teams' head coaches in the Super Bowl were brothers; the Ravens won the game with a score of 34–31 despite a third quarter comeback by the 49ers.
In the 2013 season, Jim Harbaugh led his team to a 12–4 regular season record and a third consecutive appearance both in the playoffs and NFC title game where they lost to the Seattle Seahawks, who went on to win the Super Bowl. In doing so, Harbaugh became the first NFL head coach to have reached a conference championship game in each of his first three seasons.
The 49ers had an 8–8 season in 2014 and failed to reach the playoffs for the first time under the Harbaugh era. On October 5, 2014 it was rumored that Harbaugh would not return in 2015 regardless of that season's outcome, though owner Jed York denied the claims at the time. It has been suggested that Harbaugh, despite his success on the field, was involved in a power struggle with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke starting from the 2013 season onward. On December 28, 2014, the 49ers announced that they had mutually agreed to part ways with Harbaugh as their head coach. Owner Jed York claims Harbaugh and the 49ers agreed to mutually part ways immediately after a win over the Arizona Cardinals in the final week of the regular season. Harbaugh, however, later claimed "I didn't leave the 49ers. I felt like the 49er hierarchy left me." Harbaugh further added that the 49ers informed him that he would no longer be the 49ers coach after suffering a loss on December 14, 2014, but that he decided to remain as the team's head coach for the final two games of the 2014 season because, "I wanted to finish what I started–what we started."
Harbaugh left the 49ers as one of their most successful coaches in just four years, as well as becoming the first successful NFL coach to depart for a college team. After Harbaugh's departure, the 49ers returned to their losing ways. New head coach Jim Tomsula was fired after just one season where the 49ers finished 5–11. The 49ers have won just seven of 32 contests since Harbaugh's departure.
On December 30, 2014, Harbaugh was introduced by the University of Michigan as the school's new head football coach. His return to Michigan was the subject of a book, Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football.
On September 3, 2015, Harbaugh lost his first game as head coach of Michigan, a 24–17 road loss against Utah. On September 12, Michigan won, 35–7, against Oregon State, giving Harbaugh his first win as Michigan's head coach. On September 26, Harbaugh led Michigan to a 31–0 victory over No. 22-ranked Brigham Young University, leading Michigan to move into #22 in the A.P. Top 25. This was Michigan's first appearance in the AP Top 25 since 2013. On October 3, Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a 28–0 shutout win against the Maryland Terrapins, posting back to back shutouts for the first time since 2000. The following week, Michigan beat #13 Northwestern 38–0, making the Wolverines the first team with a pair of 30-point shutouts against ranked opponents since Notre Dame's 1966 championship team. He finished his first season as the Wolverines' head coach with a 10–3 record, with losses against Utah, Michigan State, and Ohio State, and a victory in the Citrus Bowl over No. 19 Florida, 41–7. After being tied, 7–7, in the first quarter, Michigan scored 34 unanswered points as they held Florida to just 28 yards in the second half.
After defeating Hawaii in the opening game of the 2016 season, Michigan was ranked No. 5 in the AP poll. It was the first time Michigan had been ranked in the top five since the start of the 2007 season. Michigan would then cruise through its non-conference slate before defeating #8 Wisconsin. This was Michigan's first win over a top ten ranked team since 2008. In week six, the Wolverines soundly defeated Rutgers 78–0 – the third-largest margin of victory in program history, and the largest margin since 1920. Three weeks later, Michigan defeated Michigan State team on the road, for its first victory in East Lansing since 2007. They then suffered their first loss of the season to Iowa, before beating Indiana for their 10th victory; Harbaugh is one of only two coaches in program history to win 10 games in each of his first two seasons as head coach, joining Fielding H. Yost (1901–02). The regular season finished with a highly anticipated matchup against #2 Ohio State, with a likely College Football Playoff bid on the line. In a game that went to two overtime periods, Ohio State finally defeated Harbaugh's Wolverines 30–27; Harbaugh said afterward he was "bitterly disappointed with the officiating", especially for a controversial 4th and 1 call, and was reprimanded by the Big Ten with a $10,000 fine. Michigan finished the season in the Orange Bowl, where it lost 33–32 to #10 Florida State, after losing Heisman-finalist Jabrill Peppers before the game and losing two-time All-American Jake Butt early in the game. Michigan finished the season 10-3 and another 3rd-place finish in their division.
Harbaugh comes from a coaching family, and is the son of college football coach Jack Harbaugh. He has seven children. From his first marriage to Miah Harbaugh (m. 1996–2006), he has sons Jay (a graduate of Oregon State University and the tight end coach at the University of Michigan), James, a theatre major at Michigan; and daughter Grace. From his second marriage to Sarah Feuerborn Harbaugh (m. 2008), he has two daughters, Addison and Katherine, and two sons, Jack (named after his grandfather), and John. Harbaugh is a Roman Catholic who has done charity work in Piura, Peru.
Jim Harbaugh's older brother, John, is the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, and they became the first pair of brothers to serve as head coaches in NFL history, facing each other in the Thanksgiving Classic game in 2011 and Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013.
In 1994, Harbaugh appeared as a cowboy in the Western/science fiction show The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. He also made an appearance on the popular TV show Saved by the Bell in 1996, playing the cousin of the character Screech.
Harbaugh was the 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 No. 1, chose instead to keep the No. 4 for its association with Harbaugh's career.
On October 30, 2005, Harbaugh was arrested for DUI after running a stop sign in Encinitas, California. He initially pled not guilty, but later entered into a plea deal. He pled guilty to a charge of reckless driving and was sentenced to three years of probation, a $1,300 fine and a drunken-driving educational program. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports his blood-alcohol level was .09.
Harbaugh has championed equal access to justice for Americans through his involvement with the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). On June 13th, 2017, Harbaugh spoke in Washington, D.C. in the Senate Building about the gap in access to justice for low-income earning Americans which was showcased in the 2017 LSC report, "The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans." 
|San Diego Toreros (Pioneer Football League) (2004–2006)|
|Stanford Cardinal (Pacific-10 Conference) (2007–2010)|
|Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten Conference) (2015–present)|
|2015||Michigan||10–3||6–2||3rd (East)||W Citrus||11||12|
|2016||Michigan||10–3||7–2||3rd (East)||L Orange†||10||10|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|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|
|SF||2014||8||8||0||.500||3rd in NFC West||-||-||-||Did Not Qualify|
Harbaugh played for:
Harbaugh served as an assistant coach for:
Harbaugh's assistant coaches who have become NCAA Division I head coaches:
Harbaugh's assistant coaches who have become NFL head coaches:
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