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Chargers’ hire of Jim Harbaugh ranked 2nd among new coaches in 2024

Jim Harbaugh is a bonafide winner whenever he goes. Now it’s time for him to work his magic for the Chargers.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers-Head Coach Jim Harbaugh Introductory Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Every fan who cares deeply about their favorite football team wants to believe they only and truly make the best decisions at all times. No matter who the newest players and/or coaches are year-in and year-out, the franchise in which they root so hard for can almost never do any wrong.

Well, the unfortunate truth is that not every club can make the right decision at every opportunity. Sometimes, life forces them in different directions than expected and they have to make do. In an offseason where eight NFL teams hired new head coaches, not every team likely got their number one option.

Unless, you know, you’re the Chargers of course.

With so many new coaches in the mix, publications began ranking the hires from worst to first. One of those publications was where NFL analyst Derrick Klassen took to the task on Monday.

In the end, Klassen ranked the hire of Jim Harbaugh by the Chargers as the second best of the cycle, only behind the Seahawks landing former Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.

I know many of you are immediately questioning Klassen’s logic as Harbaugh certainly seemed to be the most sought-after coach of the offseason, but Klassen notes that he believes Macdonald was almost a flawless candidate. That not one coach or organization had anything to say about him that wasn’t entirely positive.

But when it came to Harbaugh, it’s possible too many pundits noted this concept of him being “difficult to work with” in San Francisco which is something Harbaugh actually scoffed at during his introductory presser.

Either way, the second best hire is still pretty dang good. And in the end, what matters are the results that we won’t actually be able to look back on until some years from now.

But let’s go ahead and dive into some of the thing’s Klassen had to say about the Chargers landing the head coach of the reigning CFP national champs.

“It feels reductive to center the Jim Harbaugh argument around winning, but it’s all he does. Harbaugh wins football games wherever he goes, whether it’s the FCS, FBS or NFL. Few coaches have ever won as reliably as Harbaugh across two decades and multiple levels of football.”

“Harbaugh accomplishes that by forming a strong identity. That sounds like a buzzword, and it is, but it’s real with Harbaugh. Harbaugh has carved out a clear identity for his teams no matter where he’s been. That identity has been essentially the same at his past three stops with Stanford, the San Francisco 49ers and Michigan.”

Yes. The identity of Harbaugh-led teams has been one of the biggest talking points in regards to how the Chargers will transform under their new head coach. Words like “tough”, “resilient”, and “blue-collar” haven’t been all that synonymous with the Chargers in recent years. Every team strives for some semblance of these traits, but not everyone finds a way to get there. If there’s anything Harbaugh has proven aside from winning, it’s an ability to construct his teams into his image.

“Harbaugh has generally done well to build out his staff. Harbaugh’s Stanford teams had Greg Roman, David Shaw, Pep Hamilton and Vic Fangio on staff. Roman and Fangio followed Harbaugh to San Francisco, where both had great success. Roman’s stuff got stale, but at the time, his run game stuff was cutting edge.”

This is one of the more exciting things Charger fans have to look forward to, as well. Former head coach Brandon Staley had some elite hires in his short tenure with guys like Frank Smith and Ryan Ficken, the latter of which will reportedly stick in LA under Harbaugh. After that, there aren’t many coaches who ended up being highly sought-after from his staff.

If Harbaugh’s ability to build a staff remains as sharp as it was back then, his recent staff additions of Mike Devlin (OL), Jesse Minter (DC), and Andy Bischoff (TE) should get fans incredibly amped.

“Lastly, Harbaugh has a quarterback on par with the best one he’s ever coached: Andrew Luck. Justin Herbert isn’t the unhinged madman Luck was at times. However, he has the pocket presence, processing and arm talent that made Luck Harbaugh’s best quarterback.”

“I have an unbelievable amount of faith in Harbaugh’s ability to get the most out of Herbert, the same as he’s done with every other quarterback he’s worked with.”

And how could we not talk about Harbaugh and Herbert’s team-up? Klassen absolutely loves this pairing, and rightfully so. Herbert is by far the best NFL quarterback Harbaugh has had the chance to work with. No disrespect to Alex Smith and Kaep, but both of those players were projects in that Harbaugh and Greg Roman needed to put in extra work to find an offense that truly brought out the best of both. That’s not the case this time in LA.

Herbert is a dream for the new staff. Instead of trying to unlock some new level to his game in order for him to be an above-average producer, the coaching staff now has a chance to turn him from a top-10 player at his position into a bonafide All-Pro.