After the Minnesota Vikings passed on him in 2022, Jim Harbaugh is back in the NFL as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Almost two years after the Minnesota Vikings decided not to hire him as Mike Zimmer's replacement, the Los Angeles Chargers announced on Wednesday that Jim Harbaugh is their new head coach.
Harbaugh has spent the last nine years in the college ranks as the University of Michigan's head coach, but now, he'll be looking to lead the Chargers to the franchise's first-ever Super Bowl victory.
If he ends up eventually doing that in the near future, it's going to make the Vikings look like they made a gigantic mistake in 2022 when they passed on him to hire Kevin O'Connell instead.
Minnesota Vikings hoping Jim Harbaugh proves them right in new gig with Los Angeles Chargers
In their first two seasons with O'Connell leading the way, Minnesota hasn't been terrible, at least when they actually had their top quarterback and wide receiver out on the field.
For some, however, especially during the middle of the Vikings' most recent season, the thoughts remained about what the team might have been able to accomplish with Harbaugh as their head coach instead of O'Connell.
Minnesota's ownership wanted the team to remain competitive after firing Zimmer in 2022, so going with someone like Harbaugh seemed like a perfect fit.
During his previous stint as an NFL head coach, Harbaugh took a San Francisco 49ers team that finished with a 6-10 record in 2010 and immediately transformed them into a team that ended the 2011 campaign with a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship.
During his four seasons with the 49ers, Harbaugh's teams won almost 70 percent of their games, went to three NFC Championships, and played in one Super Bowl.
Instead of hiring Harbaugh, however, the Vikings decided to go with someone in O'Connell, who had never been a head coach in the NFL before.
Minnesota has won 58.8 percent of their games in the last two years with O'Connell as their head coach, and he was able to help the team stay in playoff contention until the very last game of the 2023 regular season, despite losing quarterback Kirk Cousins to a significant injury in Week 8.
Who knows? Perhaps O'Connell would have been able to lead the Vikings to the 2023 NFC Championship if Cousins didn't go down. Then there wouldn't even be any mention of Minnesota passing on Harbaugh in 2022.
But the fact is, the Vikings are two seasons into the O'Connell era, and they haven't won a single playoff game.
During their first two years with Harbaugh as their head coach, San Francisco wound up winning a total of three postseason contests.
In 2023, the Chargers finished with a miserable 5-12 record. If Harbaugh is able to help Los Angeles have a similar turnaround to the 2011 49ers next season, and Minnesota has another mediocre year under O'Connell, then it's probably going to make the Vikings' decision to pass on Harbaugh in 2022 look absolutely terrible.