MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jim Harbaugh might be taking a step toward returning to the NFL.
Harbaugh and the Minnesota Vikings had exploratory conversations about the team’s coaching vacancy 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 publicizing the interview, said both sides are gauging interest.
A message seeking comment was left with Harbaugh, whose seventh season at Michigan ended last month with a loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff.
Minnesota hired Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager Wednesday night and is searching for a coach.
Michigan’s coach might be a good fit, and he might be ready to leave his alma mater.
Harbaugh is 61-24 with the Wolverines, who he led to a win over rival Ohio State last season for the first time as a coach and went on to end a school-record, 17-year drought without a Big Ten championship.
The former Michigan and NFL quarterback was 44-19-1 as San Francisco’s coach from 2011-14 and was 5-3 in the playoffs, helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl nearly a decade ago and losing a closely contested game to his brother, John, and the Baltimore Ravens.
Adofo-Mensah started working in the research and development department with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013, when Harbaugh was in his third of four seasons.
The Vikings fired general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer after a second straight absence from the playoffs. Zimmer went 72-56-1 in eight seasons, and 2-3 in the playoffs.
A little more than a year ago, Michigan gave Harbaugh a new, five-year deal that cut his guaranteed compensation and gave him an opportunity to make up for the financial loss with performance bonuses.
Harbaugh bounced back with his best season with 12 wins and he might decide the time is now to take another shot at having success in the NFL.
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Ann Arbor, Michigan, contributed to this report.