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News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

January 13, 2011
Current 49ers assistants not waiting on Harbaugh

New 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said that he would consider hiring assistants from Mike Singletary's staff, but many of them are not waiting for the new head coach to make a decision. To wit:

* The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that the Chargers are poised to hire Greg Manusky as their new defensive coordinator. Manusky was San Diego's linebackers coach from 2002-06. He also interviewed for defensive coordinator openings in Arizona and Dallas earlier this week.

* Yesterday, reports out of Los Angeles said that UCLA would hire 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Johnson as its offensive coordinator. The school, however, has yet to make a formal announcement.

* Tight ends coach Pete Hoener, a favorite of tight end Vernon Davis, interviewed with the Redskins this week, according to a team source.

* The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texans have hired Vance Joseph, the 49ers secondary coach since 2006, to be their new secondary coach.

* Jerry Sullivan, the team's wide receivers coach since 2005, has told the team he will not be back. Sullivan plans to retire from coaching.

* The best bets to remain with the 49ers are offensive line coach Mike Solari and running backs coach Tom Rathman, both of whom are well-versed in the West Coast offense, as well as defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, who has the backing of team President Jed York.

When Harbaugh met with the assistants from Singletary's staff this week, he told them he might have a decision for them as early as Friday. Harbaugh had to wait to finalize his staff until Stanford hired its head coach. That decision was made today when the Cardinal announced it had settled on David Shaw, who had served as Harbaugh's offensive coordinator at Stanford.

Shaw was one of four internal candidates interviewed by Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby. The others were defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, associate head coach Greg Roman and special teams coordinator Brian Polian. All of them now become candidates to join Harbaugh's staff with the 49ers.

Fangio is Harbaugh's top target to replace Manusky. He has 24 years of NFL experience and has been a defensive coordinator - with three different teams - for 11 of them. He and Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers began their professional coaching careers together and both use a similar style. They prefer a 3-4 scheme and like to blitz from unconventional angles.

"He likes to move (the linebackers) around and keep the offense on its toes," said Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov, who attended today's press conference at Stanford. "That's something I definitely did a lot of this year. He definitely likes bringing varied looks."

Harbaugh likely is eying Roman as his offensive coordinator. As was the case at Stanford, Harbaugh said he will often call his own plays with the 49ers. Roman spent 13 seasons as an NFL assistant with the Panthers, Texans and Ravens before joining Harbaugh at Stanford in 2009. Roman helped design and call the running plays this past season for the Cardinal.

Polian is the son of Colts President Bill Polian. He was Notre Dame's special teams coordinator in 2008-09 before Harbaugh hired him to run the Cardinal's special teams units last year.

Harbaugh also has spoken with former University of South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt about becoming the 49ers linebackers coach. Leavitt was the only football coach in the first 13 years of the school's football program but was fired a year ago for allegedly striking one of his players at halftime of a November game against Louisville. Leavitt later sued the school for wrongful termination and was awarded a $2.75 million settlement that was announced earlier this week.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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