The former college and NFL quarterback was hired in December to reinvigorate a Stanford football program that went 1-11 last season, and Harbaugh has met the challenge with an enthusiastic, hands-on approach. The 43-year-old spoke with The Examiner during a media luncheon at Tres Agaves restaurant in The City.
Former Stanford and 49ers coach Bill Walsh passed away Monday. What did you learn from him? Bill Walsh gives credibility to the world of coaching. Honesty, integrity and ingenuity — he was everything the word “coach” is supposed to mean. The first time I spoke with him, I just wanted to shut up and listen. And then afterwards I wanted to call people on the phone and tell them, “I just talked football with Bill Walsh.”
What are you looking forward to most about coaching at Stanford? Just being with the guys at practice and getting started. I really can’t wait.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced? Probably hiring a great staff [of assistant coaches]. But that’s also been one of our greatest successes so far. We put a lot of time into it and I think we have one of the best staffs in America.
You played football at Palo Alto High School and your father was an assistant coach at Stanford. What memories do you have of that experience? I have a lot of great memories and loved playing for [football coach] Earl Hansen and [basketball coach] Clem Wiser. And I remember going across the street to Stanford and getting to work out with [John] Elway and see [James] Lofton catching balls out there. That really helped me to improve as a player.
Check out more 3-minute interviews from our San Francisco newsroom.