Before he transformed Stanford from a laughingstock into a powerhouse and achieved his goal of being an NFL head coach tasked with rebuilding the floundering San Francisco 49ers, Jim Harbaugh got his full-time coaching career started across the bay in Oakland.
Fresh off the end of a 15-year career as an NFL quarterback, Harbaugh joined the Oakland Raiders in 2002 near the lowest rung of the coaching ladder as an offensive assistant on a team that went on to win the AFC championship.
Despite the long days and little pay, Harbaugh took plenty out of his two years on Bill Callahan’s staff.
He also made quite an impression. When Harbaugh told owner Al Davis he was leaving to coach the University of San Diego, the legendary NFL man reportedly told him to stay on with the Raiders.
Harbaugh will show the Raiders some of what he learned on Saturday night when he leads his new team into the annual Battle of the Bay exhibition game.
The 49ers host the Raiders at 5 p.m., a game that is being treated as a playoff time battle between the two cities mayors.