Jim Harbaugh has led the 49ers to Sunday's Super Bowl, but he could have been the head coach of the Jets instead of Rex Ryan.

In 2009, the Jets brass interviewed Harbaugh, then the Stanford head coach, the week after firing Eric Mangini.

Former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum was in the Arizona hotel that day and walked away impressed with the young coach.

"Dynamic, smart, could light up a room," was how Tannenbaum described Harbaugh this week.

The Jets talked to Harbaugh in Phoenix, where they also interviewed Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm for the head coaching job. Harbaugh's interview was kept secret by the Jets, but word leaked out. Harbaugh would issue a statement pledging his allegiance to Stanford.

At the time, the Jets felt Harbaugh was too inexperienced. The 49ers would hire him two years later. A few days after talking to Harbaugh, the Jets interviewed Rex Ryan in Baltimore and felt they had found their man.

"It was one of those things where I think everyone kind of felt like — we felt good about Rex, we felt good about where he was. I can't speak for [Harbaugh]," Tannenbaum said. "That wouldn't be fair for me. It was just one of those things where both parties just went their respective ways."

Ryan led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two years. Harbaugh has done the same in San Francisco, but he one-upped Ryan this year by getting to the Super Bowl.