Eager Jim Harbaugh ready ‘to take a crack’ at Super Bowl

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LOS ANGELES — In his first interview since accepting the Chargers coaching job, Jim Harbaugh told CBS that he had talked to some of the team’s top players, including wide receiver Keenan Allen, safety Derwin James Jr. and quarterback Justin Herbert.

Harbaugh said his meeting with Herbert left him feeling “a little starstruck.”

Harbaugh, who won a national championship at Michigan earlier this month, said he and his family were “torn” about returning to the NFL. Harbaugh played quarterback in the NFL for 14 seasons, spending his final two years with the Chargers (1999-2000).

He coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014, but his tenure ended in controversy. He and the team’s front office and upper management were at odds, eventually resulting in Harbaugh leaving to coach at Michigan in 2014, a year before his contract expired.

But Harbaugh said the opportunity with the Chargers makes sense for him now.

“I love Michigan, but I love the NFL too. There’s no Lombardi in college football,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve got so many sands left in the hourglass, and I want to take a crack at that.”

Harbaugh takes over for Brandon Staley, who finished his 48-game tenure as Chargers coach with a .500 record and two of the most embarrassing losses in franchise history: a playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in which Los Angeles blew a 27-0 first-half lead, and a 63-21 loss on Dec. 14 to the Las Vegas Raiders, which prompted his firing the following morning.

Harbaugh will be tasked with turning around a Chargers team that finished 5-12 this season and is projected to be $54.2 million over the salary cap next season.

“We work together. We win together. It’s worth it,” Harbaugh said of the culture he is hoping to build with the Chargers. “The hard work, the sacrifice, the pressure, all of it, why would somebody put themselves through that? Because the rewards are so darn good.”

Harbaugh will have his introductory news conference Thursday.