It's been four-and-a-half years since Jim Harbaugh was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. The team went through two head coaches after Harbaugh before hiring Kyle Shanahan in 2017.

Harbaugh and the 49ers didn't part ways on the best of terms, but he still reflects fondly on his time with the 49ers. Harbaugh spoke with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic this week and discussed his time in San Francisco.


Harbaugh continues to speak with some of his former players, like running back Frank Gore. He receives family videos from former defensive end Justin Smith. Harbaugh also follows the careers of his former coaching staff, like his defensive coordinator in San Francisco, Vic Fangio, who was named the Denver Broncos' head coach this offseason.

Harbaugh remembers some of his greatest coaching moments, like watching linebacker NaVorro Bowman run downfield after a game-clinching interception against the Atlanta Falcons during the final game at Candlestick Park. The play is better known to fans as "The Pick at the Stick."

"I could feel the wind as [Bowman] was coming by," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh is currently trying to build a championship contender at Michigan. He was introduced as the Wolverines' head coach just two days after departing the 49ers. Harbaugh continues to study what is happening in the NFL and has even done his homework on the 49ers' current head coach.

"I can tell you this: I like watching their tape, especially on offense," Harbaugh told Kawakami. "A lot of creative things and kind of on a weekly basis. I enjoy trying to — I wouldn't say steal because, in football, you don't regard it as stealing things. You regard it as doing your homework. I do enjoy that."

Shanahan's time with the 49ers hasn't resulted in a lot of wins. The coach is just 10-22 since taking over the team. Shanahan is still viewed as one of the most creative offensive minds in football and Harbaugh can see why.

"He's very creative in the game planning," Harbaugh said. "You see plays that work, that get somebody uncovered. That's hard to do, get somebody uncovered on a passing play or a blocking scheme where there's a big hole. That doesn't happen that often.

"Probably better than most of us, I think, Kyle and his coaches do a good job scheming those things up."

Harbaugh had a 49-22-1 regular-season record during his four seasons with the 49ers. He is 38-14 with Michigan.