49ers Blog and Q&A

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

January 12, 2011
Niners eying Leavitt; OC Johnson to join Bruins?

Jim Harbaugh is considering adding former University of South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt to his staff as a linebackers coach, according to a league source. Leavitt was immensely popular and successful with the Bulls but was fired a year ago for allegedly striking a player during halftime of a 2009 game against Louisville.

leavitt.jpg mikejohnson.jpg

Following his dismissal, Leavitt filed a wrongful termination suit against the school. That case was settled yesterday, and Leavitt will receive $2.75 million from USF. Leavitt was the school's only head coach in the first 13 years of the football program. He was 94-57 overall in that span and 40-24 since the Bulls joined the Big East Conference in 2005. The Bulls played in a bowl game in each of the last five years under Leavitt. Prior to joining USF, Leavitt was first a linebackers coach and then a defensive coordinator at Kansas State.

Leavitt's and Harbaugh's careers never have crossed. However, Leavitt met with Harbaugh last April at Stanford when Leavitt was touring California. He also sat in on a 49ers practice during that trip. The 49ers current linebackers coach, Jason Tarver, has been on the staff since 2001, a run that has spanned four head coaches. For the last two seasons, Tarver has split duties with Mike Singletary's nephew, Vantz Singletary.

Harbaugh has been meeting with prospective assistant coaches throughout the week but has not made any hires. It appears that both defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and offensive coordinator Mike Johnson will be headed elsewhere, however. Johnson reportedly will be UCLA's new offensive coordinator, although the school has yet to make an announcement. Manusky, meanwhile, has interviewed with the Cardinals and Cowboys about their defensive coordinator openings and plans to talk with the Chargers about theirs as well.

Other 49ers assistants also have been interviewing with other teams.

-- 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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