Eight days after settling his wrongful termination lawsuit with the University for $2.75 million, former USF football coach Jim Leavitt has been hired by the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers to fill its vacant linebackers coach position, according to 49ers.com.
“I’m excited to learn and just to get better as a football coach,” Leavitt said to the Tampa Tribune. “You’re coaching the very best there is and you’re around other coaches who are extremely good. That defensive staff is extremely good. I’m excited about listening and learning.”
Speculation over Leavitt’s job prospects increased in the days following his settlement with USF. The settlement allowed him to pursue new coaching opportunities, with several reports suggesting he was headed to San Francisco to join Jim Harbaugh, the team’s recent head coaching hire and son of former Western Kentucky coach Jack Harbaugh.
Leavitt faced Jack Harbaugh four times at USF, going 2-2 in those matchups.
Other reports stated that Leavitt was being considered for an assistant coaching position under Bill Snyder at Kansas State, where he held positions as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator from 1990-95.
For Leavitt, 54, this will be his first NFL coaching job. He will be faced with the challenge of improving a middle-of-the-pack defense, led by star linebacker Patrick Willis, which ranked 13th in total defense and 16th in scoring defense this season.
In 13 seasons at USF, Leavitt compiled a 95-57 record and led the team to five consecutive bowl appearances before he was abruptly fired in January 2010 after the University held an internal investigation that determined he slapped player Joel Miller during halftime of a November 2009 game against Louisville.