One year after turning down Broncos, Jim Harbaugh accepts job in AFC West

After firing Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos owner/CEO Greg Penner helped lead a search for a replacement head coach last offseason.

The first candidate the team interviewed was then-Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on Jan. 9. The interview was held virtually due to Harbaugh’s schedule. One week later, Harbaugh announced he would remain with the Wolverines on Jan. 16.

That didn’t stop Penner from flying to Michigan to meet with Harbaugh for an in-person interview the week of Jan. 23. If Penner attempted to change Harbaugh’s mind, his efforts were unsuccessful as the coach returned to Michigan (and won a national championship in 2023).

After failing to land Harbaugh, the Broncos agreed to trade for the rights to former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton on Jan. 31. Payton, who won Super Bowl XLIV with the Saints in 2009, went 8-9 in his first season in Denver.

Harbaugh went 15-0 with the Wolverines and won his first national championship. Harbaugh previously won Coach of the Year honors with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. One year later, Harbaugh led the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII (they lost to the Baltimore Ravens, 34-31).

Now, one year after spurning interest from Denver, Harbaugh is set to return to the NFL and coach the Los Angeles Chargers, a division rival. Harbaugh will get to work with 25-year-old quarterback Justin Herbert in L.A. while Payton attempts to fix the Broncos’ quarterback mess.

Payton and Harbaugh are now set to face off two times per season in the AFC West, starting with the 2024 campaign this fall.

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Story originally appeared on Broncos Wire