The 49ers are talking with former Jets and Browns head coach Eric Mangini about a consulting position, according to CBS' Jason LaCanfora.
Mangini has been out of football since being sacked by the Browns at the end of the 2010 season, and he's been working as an analyst for ESPN since. Mangini was a defensive coordinator in New England before the Jets hired him as head coach in 2006, and most of his coaching experience is on the defensive side. If he were hired by the 49ers, however, his role would be to consult with the offensive staff on dealing with certain defenses, LaCanfora writes.
That makes sense. Former Nevada coach Chris Ault invented the Pistol formation that has become all the rage in the NFL. But NFL teams were interested in hiring Ault not so much to aid their offenses but to better prepare their defenses for facing the Colin Kaepernicks and Robert Griffin III's of the league. The Chiefs recently hired Ault as a full-time consultant. (The 49ers were not one of the teams pursuing Ault).
Back to Mangini. He's only 42 and ostensibly is looking at a consulting job as a way of returning to the NFL. Is he looking at a future opening on the 49ers' staff?
If so, it's hard to see the defensive coordinator spot becoming available. As good a coach as Vic Fangio is and as well as his unit has played the last two seasons, he's received very little - if any - interest as far as head-coaching openings.
The more immediate opening would seem to be in the secondary. Defensive backs coach Ed Donatell has been considered for several defensive coordinator openings the last two years, including with the Buccaneers last year and the Saints earlier this year, but requests to interview Donatell were blocked by the 49ers because he is still under contract. Donatell has a background as a coordinator (in Green Bay and Atlanta), is well-respected around the league and is likely to receive more interest in the upcoming offseason. Mangini, meanwhile, was New England's defensive backs coach from 2000-2004 before becoming defensive coordinator the following year.
As far as relationships with the 49ers, Mangini was an assistant coach with the Jets from 1997-99, roughly the same time San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke was a scout for the Jets. Mangini also worked with 49ers assistant head coach/special teams coach Brad Seely in Cleveland in 2009-10.
-- Matt Barrows