49ers Blog and Q&A

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

January 1, 2013
49er assistant shuffle? Follow the GM searches


As I peck away at this keyboard, no 49ers assistant coaches are on their way to interview for any of the NFL's seven head-coaching openings. The Eagles reportedly have offensive coordinator Greg Roman on their list of candidates, but a formal meet and greet has yet to take place, and Oregon coach Chip Kelly appears to be their top choice.

San Francisco assistants can interview this week. But once the Wildcard weekend ends, they can't interview until the team is out of the playoffs. Someone like Roman or defensive coordinator Vic Fangio or defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, of course, wouldn't be able to join a team until after the 49ers' season is over. That may be why there's no rush to interview them now.

Of course, the interview requests could heat up quickly, especially if Tom Gamble lands a job as a team's general manager. The 49ers' director of player personnel is interviewing with the Jaguars, Jets and Chargers, according to various reports. As general manager, Gamble presumably would hire the head coach, and after spending the last eight seasons with the 49ers, he is very familiar with the team's staff. (The Jaguars have retained head coach Mike Mularkey for now).

Roman could follow Gamble. And he has ties to two other general manager candidates. Falcons director of player personnel David Caldwell is seen as an up-and-coming personnel man. Both he and Roman played at John Carroll University in the early 1990s, and both were in the Carolina Panthers organization in 1996. (Roman was a defensive assistant, which is another reason he might make a good head coach: He's held an array of coaching jobs).

Former general manager Mike Lombardi's name also has surfaced, especially in relation to the general manager job in Cleveland. Lombardi is close to Jim Harbaugh, who would give Roman a strong recommendation.

Gamble, of course, also is familiar with Mike Nolan from Nolan's time as San Francisco's head coach. Nolan, now the Falcons defensive coordinator, also is a candidate for head-coaching jobs.

Roman might be intriguing to teams like the Eagles because he's been on the cusp of of the NFL trend to incorporate the read-option into his offense, something the Eagles saw twice this year with the Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III. Roman also runs a West Coast offense - albeit one that incorporates more power running than what Philadelphia has used - and the learning curve presumably wouldn't be as steep for the Eagles' or Browns' offensive players.

If Roman were to get an interview, Alex Smith's name immediately would be brought up. The 49ers quarterback finished with a 104.1 quarterback rating, which, with six more pass attempts, would have made him the third most-efficient passer in the league this year. The 49ers are poised to go into 2013 with Colin Kaepernick as their starting quarterback, and they are unlikely to pay Smith the $7.5 million he will be owed April 1.

CSN Bay Area's Mindi Bach on Monday spoke with Fangio, who told her he hadn't yet been contacted about any head-coaching jobs. Fangio's defense has been one of the league's best the last two seasons, and he hasn't received enough credit for putting previously overlooked players - Ray McDonald, Ahmad Brooks, Tarell Brown, etc. - into key roles in 2011. None of those players was a starter the year before Fangio arrived.

Tomsula also could get attention as a defensive coordinator or even a head coach. He's had arguably the best defensive line in the NFL for the last two seasons and took over the team for a week after Mike Singletary was fired during the 2010 season. The charismatic Tomsula also coached the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe in 2006.

-- 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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