TAMPA — Moving quickly after a $2.75 million settlement with USF, Jim Leavitt's return to coaching football could wind up coming in the NFL.
The day after he settled his wrongful termination lawsuit, the former Bulls coach was being considered for the linebackers job on former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh's staff with the 49ers, the Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday.
Leavitt, who did not return calls seeking comment, hasn't coached since he was fired by USF in January 2010. A school investigation found he committed "serious violations" of its conduct policy by grabbing a player by the throat and striking him twice in the face during halftime of a November 2009 game against Louisville.
Leavitt, 56, has a history with the Harbaugh family, going back to his first seasons at USF.
The Bulls played Western Kentucky, coached by Harbaugh's father, Jack, each season from 1997-2000.
Last spring, before the NFL draft, Leavitt took a trip to California, made a stop at a 49ers practice, talking with then-coach Mike Singletary, then went to Stanford to visit Jim Harbaugh.
Leavitt had dinner with Harbaugh and his father, who said he has admired Leavitt since the first time he coached against him.
"It was a nice visit. I've always had tremendous respect for him," the elder Harbaugh said Wednesday. "His teams were always well-coached, well-prepared, played the game hard. My relationship with Jim has always been a good one."
Leavitt has personal ties to the DeBartolo family, which has owned the 49ers for more than 30 years. Leavitt bought his home on Davis Islands in 2006 for $1.7 million from Lisa DeBartolo, the daughter of former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., who attended a charity dinner on Harbour Island with Leavitt when the Super Bowl was in town two years ago.
A month later, USF served as host for a DeBartolo Football Festival, a free clinic for more than 400 local youth and high school players.
Leavitt spent significant time during the past year getting to know the nuances of NFL schemes, spending early mornings breaking down game tape with former Bucs coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.
He was active in scouting events leading up to last year's draft, attending the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., then the NFL combine as a guest of the Rams.
He also attended the personal workout of Sam Bradford, who became the top overall pick by the Rams.
Greg Auman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. View his blog at blogs.sptimes.com/usf.