Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on Tuesday declined to say anything about his expected interview Wednesday in Minnesota for the Vikings’ head-coach opening.
“I’m not confirming anything or denying anything,” Harbaugh said in a 1 1/2-minute phone conversation with the Pioneer Press.
A source said Monday night that Harbaugh would interview on Wednesday with the Vikings, who are seeking a new coach after the Jan. 10 firing of Mike Zimmer. The source said he is among four finalists for the job, along with Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
“I appreciate (the question) but please don’t be offended,” Harbaugh said of his unwillingness Tuesday to discuss his situation.
Harbaugh, an NFL quarterback from 1997-2000, is a candidate to return to the league after serving as San Francisco’s head coach from 2011-14. He led the 49ers to a 44-19-1 record and a berth in Super Bowl XLVII after the 2012 season. They lost that game 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens, coached by his brother John Harbaugh.
Harbaugh has been at Michigan since 2015, and has a 61-24 record. The Wolverines are coming off a 12-2 season, which included a Big Ten championship and a berth in the four-team College Football Playoff.
During Harbaugh’s final two seasons with the 49ers, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was in his first of two seasons in their front office. Adofo-Mensah was named Vikings general manager last Wednesday, replacing Rick Spielman, who was fired on Jan. 10 along with Zimmer.
Before going to the 49ers, Harbaugh coached at Stanford from 2007-11. Playing a key role in hiring him was Darrin Nelson, a former Vikings running back who was then senior associate athletic director at Stanford.
“He’s a good man,” Harbaugh said of Nelson.
Nelson, who played for the Vikings from 1982-89 and 1991-92, recently retired as senior associate athletic director at California-Irvine. He said Tuesday that he believes Harbaugh would be a good hire by the Vikings.
“I think he’s a good candidate, for sure,” said Nelson, who was at Stanford from 1997-2011. “He’s very capable. I like him.”
Nelson described Harbaugh as someone who is consumed by football and that he was “crazy serious” during games.
“I never had any problems with him personality-wise, but I’ve always been around football,” Nelson said. “He was a good coach, and his players responded to him in a positive manner.”
The Vikings conducted virtual interviews with O’Connell and Morris before Adofo-Mensah was hired as general manager, and had in-person interviews with both of them Monday night in Los Angeles. Adofo-Mensah was involved in those interviews.
The Vikings had a virtual interview with Graham last Saturday that included Adofo-Mensah. Graham was expected to have an in-person interview with the Vikings on Tuesday in the Twin Cities.
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