The Chicago Bears could be looking for a new head coach after the season concludes on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, but one potential candidate has already been wiped off the board as San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has reportedly accepted the same position at the University of Michigan.
Harbaugh, who began his NFL playing career with the Bears, has been the subject of rumors all season long as his relationship with 49ers team brass has deteriorated. Over the past few weeks, those rumors have gained steam as San Francisco was eliminated from playoff contention, and Michigan, the coach’s alma mater, has reportedly made an incredibly lucrative offer to lure him back into the college ranks.
Now, with Harbaugh presumably off the board, the Bears’ potential field of coaches shifts a bit. It seems highly unlikely that they’ll be able to find the kind of home run hire that Harbaugh would have represented, as college coaches like Nick Saban and Les Miles have rebuffed advances from the NFL before. A coach like Mike Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos in the late 1990s, could be another option, as could any number of hotshot coordinators, including Indianapolis offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles (although the latter inked an extension to keep him with the Cardinals through the 2017 season).