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Dolphins eyeing Jim Harbaugh to replace Joe Philbin, per report

If Jim Harbaugh is on his way out of San Francisco, the Miami Dolphins are reportedly interested in the 50-year-old coach.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh is still under contract with the San Francisco 49ers through next season, but there are already rumors tying the coach to other potential job openings. With an impending lame duck season for Harbaugh a year from now on the horizon, the Miami Dolphins are reportedly working behind the scenes to see if the 50-year-old can be acquired to replace current head coach Joe Philbin during the offseason, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS.

This certainly isn't the first time Harbaugh's future in San Francisco has been questioned. Meanwhile, the franchise structure in Miami has been unsettled for over a year now. So, what do we make of this rumor?

Why it could happen

The Dolphins have been linked to Harbaugh via the rumor mill since his coaching days at Stanford, before the 49ers hired him in 2011. Harbaugh's name came up again on the rumor mill last spring, while the Dolphins were searching for a general manager to replace deposed Jeff Ireland.

There was speculation over Harbaugh's future even before the 49ers started 1-2 this season. A deal was reportedly in place this offseason that would have sent Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns for a package of draft picks, but the coach ultimately decided not to leave San Francisco. Until Harbaugh gets a new contract, rumors over his future will persist.

Everyone wants a Harbaugh

The Dolphins aren't the only potential job opening Harbaugh is tied to. The University of Michigan -- where Harbaugh starred as a quarterback in '80s -- may be in for a coaching change after a disastrous start by Brady Hoke. The Wolverines have lost three of their last four games, including a 30-14 game at home against Minnesota on Saturday in their Big Ten opener. Compounding the struggles is a controversy from Saturday that started when Hoke reinserted quarterback Shane Morris back into the game shortly after the sophomore suffered what appeared to be a concussion.

Given Harbaugh's contract status and his ties to Michigan, it certainly doesn't seem impossible he ends up as Hoke's replacement next season. The new Dolphins rumors only compound an already fragile situation. La Confora also reports Dolphins brass is split over who should be the starting quarterback, another sign of the dysfunction that's been circulating around Miami for a while now.

There's smoke coming from all three camps here -- Michigan, the Dolphins, and Harbaugh's. It was only a matter of time before someone connected the dots.

Why it won't happen

While there have been reports that Harbaugh's coaching style isn't beloved in San Francisco, there's no denying he's been successful there. In the last three years, the 49ers have made it to the conference finals twice and the Super Bowl once under Harbaugh. He was also named the NFL Coach of the Year in 2011.

So, yes, the 49ers lost to the Bears in Week 2 and the Cardinals in Week 3, but there's still a lot of time left in the season. The roster remains stacked with talent and Harbaugh has clearly won a lot of games there in the recent past. Even after the bizarre situation that unfolded this offseason with the Browns, it's no guarantee Harbaugh is set for a job change.

Likelihood: 3/10

Focusing on the Dolphins rumor, there's a long way to go before something like this actually comes to fruition. We'll remain skeptical for now.