Jim Harbaugh

Bears say they never reached out to Jim Harbaugh

Ryan Poles on why he didn't kick the tires on the Michigan coach

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Jim Harbaugh was never going to be the next head coach of the Chicago Bears. It’s not because Harbaugh isn’t qualified. He certainly is. Harbaugh has found a way to win wherever he goes, from taking the downtrodden Stanford Cardinal and leading them to a prestigious Orange Bowl win, to leading the 49ers to three-straight NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance, to bringing a national championship back to his alma mater at Michigan.

It’s not that Harbaugh wasn’t interested in returning to the NFL. He’s long been linked to a new job in the pros, and reportedly hired a new agent. Consensus says that move indicates he’s seriously considering leaving Michigan.

It’s because the Bears never reached out to Harbaugh.

“I haven’t talked to Jim,” Bears GM Ryan Poles said in his year-end press conference at Halas Hall. “He’s the coach at Michigan.”

On the surface it seems like negligence on the Bears’ part. The Bears are so process-oriented, so focused on every detail and turning over every stone, that it’s surprising to hear they didn’t reach out to Harbaugh to at least gauge his interest in leading the team. They went through thorough evaluations on top quarterbacks when they had the opportunity to draft one last year, and they’ll do the same this year, as they should. If the team has the opportunity to add a game changer at head coach, one would imagine they’d treat it like every other opportunity and explore it.

To be fair, Poles might have given the opportunity some thought at any point over the past several months. But it sounds like when his evaluation of head coach Matt Eberflus was done, so was the evaluation of any other head coach candidate.

“We’re going with Matt,” Poles said. “I didn’t go talk to anybody.”

The Bears believe they have their guy in Eberflus. They’re impressed by the way he kept the team from crumbling when they lost their 14th game in a row.

“I really think that the head coach needs to be able to captain the ship when the seas have storms, and really keep everything settled,” Poles said. “When you go through hard times and he can keep everyone together, to me, that’s the critical piece. In a big market like this, you have to be strong. I mean, if he’s jumping off the boat and everyone else starts jumping off the boat, it’s a hot mess. So the stability was a big piece of it.”

There’s no reason to believe Harbaugh wouldn’t have been a strong captain if he was at the helm. That probably didn’t matter though, since it’s clear the Bears didn’t want to rock the boat.

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