Did Jim Harbaugh make the wrong decision passing on the Atlanta Falcons?

2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington
2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington / Jamie Schwaberow/GettyImages

While it is impossible to know for sure how serious the Atlanta Falcons and Jim Harbaugh ever were it was clear the Falcons had a healthy level of interest. The team scheduled a second interview that will never happen due to Harbaugh taking the Chargers job.

The decision hurts considering how great Harbaugh has proven at turning around losing organizations. The 49ers have a rich history but were a complete mess when the coach took over the franchise. The winning was instant with the team making one Super Bowl and appearing in three straight conference title games.

This accomplishment was all the more impressive when you look back at his quarterbacks and the rosters he had to work with. The same accomplishments he had a Michigan turning around a historic program and sending Nick Saban into retirement with a loss on his way to winning a National Championship.

Say what you will about his style, but the head coach is a proven winner and a clear leader. Atlanta missed out on a potentially great fit considering all the pieces they already have in place. The Falcons are in a far better cap position and have a myriad of young players that are just at the start of their prime seasons.

Harbaugh opted for a roster that has very little cap flexibility and is built around aging stars and Justin Herbert. That is the one clear thing that the Chargers have over the Falcons, a franchise star at the quarterback position.

Outside of that it is hard to see why the head coach would choose the Chargers as a landing spot. The Chargers must take on Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs twice a year as well as battle with what Sean Payton is building in Denver.

Add in the fact the Chargers play in a stacked AFC (Including John Harbaugh's Ravens) and it is easy to make the case the Harbaugh made a mistake. Perhaps Atlanta wasn't serious or didn't pursue the head coach as they should.

Regardless of why the fit didn't happen it is clear that both Harbaugh and the Falcons would have a far easier path to winning if they had hired the former Michigan coach. Jim's path back to the Super Bowl now goes through Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, C.J. Stroud, and Trevor Lawrence. A path that demands excellence and for all the stars to align. Who other than Burrow and Brady have proven capable to the task of getting through Mahomes?

Jim Harbaugh has a tough road ahead in his return to this league. A return that will be celebrated but could have been set up for far more success in Atlanta.