Phew! With the news that Penn State plans to hire Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, it appears that Greg Roman will be remaining with the 49ers. Roman, who also interviewed for, but ultimately turned down, the head-coaching job at Tulane, hasn't been contacted about any other openings, college or NFL, at this point.
Of course, the NFL hiring carousel is in full swing, and the longer the 49ers go in the playoffs, the more Roman and the other assistants become desirable for other teams. Roman obviously wants to go off on his own and has been very aggressive of late in putting his name and face over the airwaves. (His name surfaced in relation to the Penn State job just as O'Brien emerged as the top candidate. Coincidence? I think not.)
My take on it is that Roman is a smart and savvy coach who wants to get out from Jim Harbaugh's shadow. There's been absolutely no sign of friction between the two men. But if you're ambitious like Roman obviously is, you want to work for a period under an offensive head coach like Harbaugh but you don't want to be there for very long because you can't shine independently.
And therein lies the rub for Roman and any program or franchise that wants to hire him. Detractors automatically will point to Harbaugh and wonder how much of the 49ers' success was due to Roman and how much was due to the head coach. The 49ers also finished 26th in total offense this year. Those of us who watched this team can reconcile that statistic. But it would be hard for a once-proud program like Penn State to sell to its followers.
Do you think Aldon Smith got hosed in Pro Bowl voting? If so, you can funnel that anger into democracy and vote for Smith for the 2011 Pepsi Rookie of the Year. This NFL award is different from the more prestigious Defensive Rookie of the Year award, which is done by the Associated Press and announced on the eve of the Super Bowl.
Smith's competitors are quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, cornerback Patrick Peterson and linebacker Von Miller, his main rival for DROY. You can vote through 6 p.m. on Jan. 31 at www.nfl.com/rookies
-- Matt Barrows