The 49ers will hire former Browns and Jets head coach Eric Mangini as a "senior offensive consultant," a league source confirmed today. Mangini's name surfaced in relation to a 49ers' consulting job last month, and Jim Harbaugh on Tuesday hinted that a move could be made soon. Mangini is expected to report for work Monday.
ESPN's Chris Mortenson was first to report the imminent hire.
Harbaugh, as is his habit, refused to talk about the particulars of the job. "Well, rather than be premature about what we're looking for, or what we're going to do, there will be a time and a place to talk about that," he said on Tuesday.
That Mangini, 42, would offer expertise on the offensive side of the ball at first seems odd. He made a name for himself as a defensive coach, first coaching the secondary with the Jets and Patriots and then as a defensive coordinator in New England. Furthermore, the 49ers have an abundance of coaching talent on offense, including Harbaugh himself, offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who is expected to become a head coach at some point, and assistants like Tim Drevno, John Morton and Tom Rathman.
Mangini's role will be to break down film of upcoming opponents and to offer defensive expertise -- and a defensive perspective -- to those offensive coaches. When former Nevada coach Chris Ault was shopping his services to the NFL as a consultant, for example, he found that most of the interest came not from offensive coaches wanting to know how to run Ault's famed "pistol" formation but from defensive coaches eager to figure out how to stop it.
Hiring Mangini, who's been working as an ESPN analyst the last two seasons, also presumably would give the 49ers a jump on hiring him as an assistant if, say, someone like secondary coach Ed Donatell or defensive line coach Jim Tomsula were hired elsewhere. Donatell has been on several teams' short lists for defensive coordinator the last two seasons, but the 49ers have blocked those overtures.
Perhaps more significant, the newly created position gives Mangini experience with, and exposure to, offensive minds like Harbaugh and Roman to make Mangini a more well-rounded and more desirable head-coaching candidate in the future. Mangini has only coached offense for one season in the NFL, when he was an offensive assistant for the Ravens in 1996.
Mangini was on hand for one of the 49ers' practices in Youngstown, Ohio, in 2011. In addition, he has a relationship with 49ers special teams coordinator Brad Seely, who also is San Francisco's assistant head coach and is a trusted adviser for Harbaugh. He also was on the Jets staff when 49ers general manager Trent Baalke was a scout in that organization.
-- Matt Barrows