Santa Clara, CA…Jim Harbaugh has been named head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Widely regarded as one of the finest up-and-coming coaches in football, Harbaugh becomes the 18th head coach in 49ers history.
A 15-year NFL veteran quarterback, Harbaugh brings 17 years of coaching experience to San Francisco, which includes spending the last seven years as a head coach (58-27) in the collegiate ranks. He joins the 49ers after an impressive four-year stint as the head coach at Stanford University, where he guided the Cardinal football program to the biggest turnaround in school history over a four-year span.
Among Harbaugh’s many accomplishments while at Stanford were orchestrating two of the highest scoring teams in school history, three of the top four rushing teams in program history and back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 1995 and ’96. He also coached back-to-back Heisman Trophy finalists in running back Toby Gerhart and quarterback Andrew Luck.
As Stanford’s head coach, Harbaugh led the Cardinal to a 29-21 overall record, including a 20-6 record over the past two seasons. It was in stark contrast to the program he inherited in 2007, which had compiled a 16-40 record in the previous five seasons, including a 1-11 mark in 2006. After leading the Cardinal to records of 4-8 and 5-7 in his first two seasons, Harbaugh guided Stanford to an 8-5 overall mark and an appearance in the Sun Bowl in 2009, followed by a historic 12-1 season and an Orange Bowl win, in 2010.
Harbaugh fielded one of the greatest teams in Stanford football history in 2010, as the Cardinal posted a school record of 12 wins on the season, suffering its only setback to the Pac-10 champion Oregon Ducks. The Cardinal proceeded to win its final eight games of the season, which was capitalized by a 40-12 victory over Virginia Tech in the first Bowl Championship Series bowl appearance in school history.
The Cardinal offense set a school record with 524 points on the season, having scored 30-or-more points in all but one game, to finish the season ranked 9th nationally in points scored (40.3) and 14th nationally in total yards per game (472.5). Harbaugh played an instrumental role in developing Luck, who completed 70% of his passes for 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns. Stanford’s ground game also proved productive as the team ranked 17th in the nation in rushing yards per game (213.8).
The team’s defensive unit was just as impressive, ranking 10th nationally in scoring defense (17.4). The Cardinal posted three shutouts on the year and finished ranked in the top-25 nationally in five defensive categories.
In 2009, Harbaugh was able to effectively transform the Cardinal into one of the most productive offensive units in the nation, as the team finished the season ranked 19th in total offense (427.6 yards per game), while setting single season records for total yards (5,559) and rushing yards (2,837). The year culminated in a trip to the Sun Bowl, a 31-27 loss to Oklahoma, marking the program’s first bowl appearance since the 2001 season.
Harbaugh came to Stanford from the University of San Diego, where he guided the Toreros to an impressive three-year overall record of 29-6 (.829), including back-to-back 11-1 seasons that netted a pair of Division I-AA Mid Major national titles in 2005 and 2006.
Prior to joining the University of San Diego, Harbaugh spent two seasons (2002-03) as an offensive assistant with the Oakland Raiders. In his first season, the Raiders posted an 11-5 regular season record, won the AFC Western Division title and advanced to Super Bowl XXXVII.
Harbaugh laid the groundwork for his coaching career while he was still competing as a player in the NFL, serving as an NCAA-certified unpaid assistant coach at Western Kentucky, where he worked with his father and Hilltoppers head coach Jack Harbaugh, from 1994-2001.
As a first round draft pick by the Chicago Bears in 1987, Harbaugh played for five teams over 15 seasons, including the Chicago Bears (1987-93), Indianapolis Colts (1994-97), Baltimore Ravens (1998), San Diego Chargers (1999-2000) and Carolina Panthers (2001). He racked up 26,288 passing yards to go along with 129 touchdown passes, while completing 2,305-of-3,918 passes in 177 career games (140 starts). Harbaugh ranks in the NFL’s top-50 in two career passing categories – completions (41st) and pass attempts (45th).
Success is no stranger to Harbaugh. A product of nearby Palo Alto High School, he enjoyed a storied career at the University of Michigan, where he played for legendary coach Bo Schembechler and helped lead the Wolverines to two bowl appearances, garnering Big Ten Player of the Year honors.
Jim and his wife, Sarah, have two daughters, Addison and Katherine. Jim also has three children, Jay, James Jr. and Grace. He is the son of long-time college coach, Jack Harbaugh, the brother of Baltimore Ravens head coach, John Harbaugh, and the brother-in-law of Indiana University Men’s Basketball head coach, Tom Crean.