We’ve heard for months that Jim Harbaugh isn’t likely to return as the 49ers head coach in 2015, and while there’s some been some speculation about his next stop, we’ve yet to see anything concrete. However, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (link via Rapoport’s colleague Connor Orr), while confirming that “it would be surprise” if Harbaugh returned to San Francisco next season, has shed a little light on Harbaugh’s future, reporting that the Dolphins are no longer an option to land the 49ers head coach. Meanwhile, given that Harbaugh’s family would like to remain in the Bay Area, the Raiders could emerge as a candidate to secure Harbaugh’s services.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pursued Harbaugh following the 2010 season despite the fact that Tony Sparano was still under contract as the club’s head coach, so it wasn’t surprising that reports surfaced linking the two parties again. However, Miami has turned its season around as of late, and currently sits at 6-4, good for second place in the AFC East. As such, head coach Joe Philbin is unlikely to be fired, and even if he is let go, Rapoport says that Harbaugh would still not be “on the Dolphins’ radar.” In fact, Ross, a University of Michigan alum, would prefer to see Harbaugh take over in Ann Arbor, tweets Rapoport.
The Raiders connection probably makes more sense at this point, especially given that Harbaugh’s wife reportedly wants to remain in the Bay Area. Oakland fired Dennis Allen after an 0-4 start, and in an odd twist of fate, installed Sparano as its interim head coach. The Raiders are still winless, which makes it unlikely that Sparano or general manager Reggie McKenzie will be allowed to keep their jobs in 2015. If Harbaugh were offered total control over the team, he could be interested in joining an Oakland club that boasts building blocks on both sides of the ball (quarterback Derek Carr and linebacker Khalil Mack), and will be entitled to another top-five draft pick next year.