Vikings discuss coaching job with Jim Harbaugh

MINNEAPOLIS – Jim Harbaugh has taken a step towards a potential return to the NFL.

Harbaugh and the Minnesota Vikings had an exploratory conversation about the team’s vacant head coaching position on Saturday, a person with knowledge of the process told The Associated Press.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team was not making the interview public, said both parties were weighing interest. The Vikings made the official request earlier this week to speak to him.

A message seeking comment was left for Harbaugh, whose seventh season at Michigan ended with a loss to Georgia in the college football playoffs last month.

The Vikings hired former Cleveland Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager this week, and they are still looking for a coach.

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Harbaugh, 58, could be a good fit for Adofo-Mensah, who is a first-time chief executive at 40. Adofo-Mensah began working in the research and development department with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013, when Harbaugh was in his third of four seasons as the team’s coach.

The khaki Michigan coach would he be ready to leave his alma mater?

Harbaugh is 61-24 with the Wolverines, leading them to a win over rival Ohio State last season for the first time under his leadership. They then ended a record 17-year streak without a Big Ten championship and entered the four-team National Playoffs for the first time in eight years under the current format.

The former NFL quarterback was 44-19-1 as San Francisco coach from 2011-2014 and 5-3 in the playoffs, helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl after the 2012 season. lost to the Baltimore Ravens, who were coached by his brother, John Harbaugh.

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Just over a year ago, Michigan awarded Harbaugh a new five-year contract that reduced his guaranteed compensation and gave him the option to make up for the financial loss with performance bonuses. Harbaugh bounced back to produce his best season with 12 wins.

The Vikings fired general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer after a second consecutive absence from the playoffs. Zimmer went 72-56-1 in eight seasons and 2-3 in the playoffs.

The Vikings also conducted a virtual interview with New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham on Saturday. They have now spoken with 10 candidates, including Harbaugh.

Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was the first to be interviewed, and he was hired by the Denver Broncos. Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has decided to stay in his current role.

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Others still available are Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and the Los Rams’ top two assistants. Angeles, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Kevin. O’Connell.

The Rams and 49ers play Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

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AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Ann Arbor, Michigan, contributed to this report.

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