Vikings short head coach candidate list, set up Harbaugh interview

After the Rams flew to Los Angeles on Monday to interview attack coordinator Kevin O’Connell and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, the Vikings cut short their time on the West Coast and headed home to interview two finalists in Minnesota.

The second of those two interviews is likely to receive more headlines than the others in the 2022 training cycle.

According to sources close to the situation, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will travel to Minnesota on Wednesday to interview the Vikings – the day college teams show off their new recruitment classes on National Signing Day. After that, Harbaugh will interview the Vikings A “research conversation” On Saturday, he is considering returning to the NFL seven years after 49 players fired him.

He went 44-19-1 in the regular season with the 49ers in his four years, losing three consecutive NFC Championship Games to San Francisco and one Super Bowl (losing to the Ravens team coached by his brother John). He was the coach of the 49ers when Vikings General Manager Quasi Adofo-Mensa began working in San Francisco’s research department.

Just as Harbaugh won with 49 players, the Vikings’ interest is in gambling. Team ownership has long talked about a collective culture The tenure of Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman ended in tension at the company, And the Vikings will create a play for a top-tier coach whose first NFL run ended in disagreement with the front office.

After the 2014 season, Harbaugh He was released after a split With GM Trent Baalke. Almost immediately, he was hired by Michigan to lead the Big Ten title and the college football playoff tour in 2021, a year after the school cut his salary in half as part of a four-year extension.

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Rumors that Harbaugh may have returned to the NFL have been bubbling in recent weeks, and reports linking him to the Dolphins – owner Stephen Rose a key Michigan booster – have sprung up after the Vikings’ first discussion with the coach on Saturday. Ross had said he could not be the person to separate Harbaugh from Michigan, but he could play for the coach if the Vikings’ interest meant he would return to the NFL immediately. Still, the Vikings seem to be in line to get their first interview with him.

Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who impressed the Vikings in a virtual interview on Saturday, said it would come a day after his second interview with the team on Tuesday.

The Vikings were due to speak with 49ers defensive coordinator Dimeko Ryanes in the Gulf on Tuesday, but the 37-year-old Ryanes withdrew from the search and returned quickly from California after choosing to stay with the NFC runner-up. Harbaugh’s presence in the competition for the Vikings job may also have been a factor in Ryan’s decision to withdraw.

On Monday, at least, the Vikings focused on the two coordinators of the NFC’s Super Bowl representative.

Including a Viking group Adofo MensaRob Brzezinski, vice president of football operations, and co-owner Mark Wilf boarded a flight to southern California on Monday morning for a second afternoon interview with O’Connell and Morris, one day after helping them win the Los Angeles NFC Championship. At SoFi Stadium.

O’Connell, 36, conducted a second interview with Texans for coaching job on Monday, and is said to be interested in the Jaguars – however any conversation with Jacksonville will have to wait after the Super Bowl. The Jaguars did not ask O’Connell to speak during the league’s window for an initial interview with the coaches of the playoffs.

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O’Connell was the coach of the Washington quarterbacks in 2017, the starting coach in Kirk Cousins’ final season, and in 2019 with Kevin Stephansky and Gary Kubiak, who will run a system similar to the Vikings in Minnesota. In 2016 he worked with Adofo-Mensah in San Francisco, where he was doing special projects under Chip Kelly of 49ers staff.

Morris, 45, went 17-31 as Buccaneers coach from 2009 to ’11, and Dan Quinn, who was sacked as interim coach of Atlanta in 2020, went 4-7. He has coached both the NFL and beyond for crime and defense He was one of the last coaches Along with the Vikings’ initial round of interviews, he impressed the team enough to receive a face-to-face interview on Monday.

Before the Vikings hire a coach, they must conduct at least two face-to-face interviews with minority candidates. A reunion with Morris and Graham in black will meet that need.

Although the Vikings could reach a verbal agreement with O’Connell or Morris this week, no coach will be able to start with the team until the Rams’ Bengals play in the Super Bowl LVI on 13 February.

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