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Why NFL Analysts Believe Justin Herbert Can be Even Better With Jim Harbaugh

Herbert Radio Row

In the blink of an eye, Justin Herbert is set to enter Year 5 in the NFL.

The Chargers franchise quarterback has had one of the most impressive four-year starts to a career and has broken a number of records in the process.

He's become one of the top quarterbacks in the league — and now gets to team up with a head coach in Jim Harbaugh who's resumè speaks for itself.

Chargers.com recently spoke to a handful of NFL analysts to get a feel on the new partnership between quarterback and head coach and just what the hire means for one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

"It will be a fascinating transition for him in a good way," ESPN's Field Yates said about what the hire means for Herbert. "I think that Justin has proven that no matter who is coaching him, he's going to give you a chance most Sundays to win."

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero added: "I think that being in a successful program and being with somebody that's got a track record is always good for a quarterback."

The Ringer's Steven Ruiz believes Harbaugh's track record throughout his coaching career could be a big boost for Herbert as he enters this next phase of his career.

"I think it's a big deal because every quarterback Harbaugh has worked with has gotten better," Ruiz said. "I don't think Justin Herbert has a lot of areas where he can really improve a lot, but I think like the little things like learning how to be a veteran quarterback in the NFL.

"I think Harbaugh is going to be great at filling those gaps," Ruiz added.

Take a look back at the best photos of Justin Herbert's 2023 campaign

Pro Football Talk's Myles Simmons echoed Ruiz's sentiments, as Harbaugh's ability to build a program could be the icing on the cake for Herbert and the Bolts offense.

"I think certainly Herbert could take that next step, but it's not like we're talking about somebody who's been bad," Simmons said. "It's also not like we're talking about somebody who hasn't shown an ability to lead comebacks, shown an ability to finish games in that way. It's like you're kind of trying to put the finishing touch on it.

"This is a very, very talented quarterback, and it's more or less how does everything else come together around him and around, from an organizational standpoint," Simmons later added. "From being up front from receivers and tight ends and all that those things. I think once you put them together, the Chargers are going to be kind of hard to stop."

Harbaugh's success at every stop has come in different ways but one big thing has remained the same — he's been able to adjust and get the best out of a quarterback's strengths.

A former NFL quarterback himself, he's been able to get it done with various types of quarterbacks with different skillsets and strengths.

It's something that could mean big things for a quarterback of Herbert's caliber moving forward.

"I think it's fantastic," The Athletic's Robert Mays said. "I think it's a guy who's going to be unafraid to tell him what he needs to hear, which I think is going to be really important and somebody who has done a great job of getting the most out of a lot of different kinds of quarterbacks.

"If you look at the guys that he's coached in the NFL and in college, Alex Smith is very different than Colin Kaepernick, is very different than JJ McCarthy, is very different than Justin Herbert and they've had success with all those types of guys," Mays added. "I think it is only a positive for Justin, for that offense, for the organization at large."

Take a look at the top photos of Jim Harbaugh during his playing days as a Charger.

Herbert's numbers through four seasons are staggering.

He's thrown for 17,223 yards (most by a QB in first four seasons), 114 touchdowns (tied for second-most by a QB in first four seasons) with a 66.6 completion percentage. 

And while it remains to be seen how much Harbaugh will elevate Herbert , CBS Sports' Will Brinson believes the Chargers' franchise quarterback will become even more efficient due to the nature of the offense the head coach will bring.

"I think it will be different. I think the volume is going to come down a little bit," Brinson said. "He's going to be more efficient. A quarterback makeover is what Jim Harbaugh does the best. He's going to do that for Justin Herbert in a way that Herbert's not going to be a volume guy.

"He's going to be an efficiency guy moving forward and I think the offensive line it will be more physical in the trenches, and it'll be better for like the play action itself is going to be incredible to me. Herbert, awesome quarterback, incredible talent," Brinson added. "Harbaugh's going to tail that, and he's going to become more efficient."

Take a look back at the best photos of the offense's 2023 campaign