In December 2014, the San Francisco 49ers parted ways with Jim Harbaugh. A few days later, Harbaugh became the head coach at his alma mater.
“It happened so fast,” Harbaugh said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “The season ended, and I was presented with the opportunity to coach at Michigan. I thought of three things: I love football, I love coaching and I love Michigan. So this is probably as good as it’s going to get. There wasn’t a lot of pros and cons. This was with the heart. This was good. I want to do this, so I did it.”
Harbaugh, 52, built a powerhouse at Stanford, built a powerhouse with the 49ers and is in the process of building a powerhouse in Ann Arbor. He was no plans of leaving any time soon.
“This is where I want to be,” he said. “I am really having the time of my life. I told our team this year that this past season was the most enjoyable year I’ve had in football all time. This was the funnest year I’ve ever had in football. And I told our team, ‘This will be the most fun I’ve ever had in football personally if we win this bowl game.’”
The Wolverines did just that, throttling Florida 41-7 in the citrus Bowl to finish 10-3.
“Just a very enjoyable year of football,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh just signed a top-notch recruiting class at Michigan, even nabbing the nation’s No. 1 player, defensive tackle Rashan Gary. The 52-year-old coach embraced recruiting with great enthusiasm, having sleepovers and even climbing a tree to impress one prospect.
Being a people person, Harbaugh said, has its advantages.
“It’s (all about) connecting with people,” he said. “It’s building relationships. But yeah, I climbed a tree.”
Which, interestingly enough, is something Harbaugh does quite often.
“I love climbing trees,” he said. “I like climbing trees with my own kids. It’s an athletic rep. More kids should be climbing trees. It’s balance. It’s strength. I’m not a big fan of (playing) video games. Go climb a tree.”
As for the 49ers, Harbaugh believes his old team can still have success with Colin Kaepernick, who was benched midway through the 2015 season.
“As my esteemed associate and great friend Frank Gore would say, ‘These haters can’t hold us back,’” Harbaugh explained. “There’s nothing that can hold Colin Kaepernick back. He’s a great player, great person. He will flourish. Tremendous competitor. The same kind of competitor you’re going to see in the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. Colin will flourish. It seems like (he) would be a good fit with (Chip Kelly).”