Jets could have been Jim dandies
By BRIAN COSTELLO
Last Updated: 1:39 AM, January 31, 2013
Posted: 1:37 AM, January 31, 2013
NEW ORLEANS — Jim Harbaugh has led the 49ers to Sunday’s Super Bowl, but he could have been the head coach of the Jets instead of Rex Ryan.
In 2009, the Jets brass interviewed Harbaugh, then the Stanford head coach, the week after firing Eric Mangini.
Former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum was in the Arizona hotel that day and walked away impressed with the young coach.
“Dynamic, smart, could light up a room,” was how Tannenbaum described Harbaugh this week.
The Jets talked to Harbaugh in Phoenix, where they also interviewed Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm for the head coaching job. Harbaugh’s interview was kept secret by the Jets, but word leaked out. Harbaugh would issue a statement pledging his allegiance to Stanford.
At the time, the Jets felt Harbaugh was too inexperienced. The 49ers would hire him two years later. A few days after talking to Harbaugh, the Jets interviewed Rex Ryan in Baltimore and felt they had found their man.
“It was one of those things where I think everyone kind of felt like — we felt good about Rex, we felt good about where he was. I can’t speak for [Harbaugh],” Tannenbaum said. “That wouldn’t be fair for me. It was just one of those things where both parties just went their respective ways.”
Ryan led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two years. Harbaugh has done the same in San Francisco, but he one-upped Ryan this year by getting to the Super Bowl.
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Mike Tannenbaum recalls 'dynamic, smart' Jim Harbaugh in 2009 interview for Jets job
By Jenny Vrentas/The Star-Ledger
on January 30, 2013 at 8:15 PM, updated January 30, 2013 at 8:16 PM
NEW ORLEANS -- One of the coaches in Super Bowl XLVII was once a candidate for the Jets' head coaching job.
That would be the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh, who made the jump to the NFL head coaching ranks in 2011. Back in 2009, when the Jets were searching for a head coach and Harbaugh had just completed his second season at Stanford, the club secretly interviewed Harbaugh during a West Coast trip that also included a meeting with Russ Grimm in Arizona.
Former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum's impression of Harbaugh in that interview: "Dynamic. Smart. Could light up a room."
The Jets, though, hired Rex Ryan that year, who led the team to AFC Championship Games in his first two seasons but has missed the playoffs the past two years.
Harbaugh has been quickly successful in his first two seasons in the NFL, taking the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game last year and the Super Bowl this year.
When the Jets interviewed Harbaugh, he had a 9-15 record in two seasons at Stanford after three seasons as head coach at the University of San Diego. He had a 15-year NFL playing career as a quarterback but his only coaching experience at the professional level was two years as an offensive assistant for the Raiders. The perception was he may have been still relatively green to come to the NFL.
"It was one of those things where I think everyone kinda felt like – we felt good about Rex, I think he felt good about where he was," Tannenbaum said this week during a round of interviews. "I can’t speak for Jim. That wouldn’t be fair to me to say. It was just one of those things where both parties just went their respective ways."