Mike Singletary said a list of candidates for the 49ers’ offensive coordinator vacancy has been compiled. They are going through the process of whittling down the list to a manageable number. There don’t figure to be any interviews this week, but the work continues behind the scenes.
So who’s on the list to replace Mike Martz? We don’t have anything concrete to report. But we can make a few guesses – educated and otherwise.
The first thing you have to remember is that coaches currently employed must receive permission from their teams to interview. No team is going to allow a good offensive coordinator to take another job.
Also, coaches on teams still in the playoffs are essentially off-limits until their seasons have concluded.
Here is a partial list of some possible candidates:
Scott Linehan, former Rams coach: This makes sense on so many different levels. He has been a very good coordinator with a more traditional offense. He seems to be from a run-first mentality. Because of his failings with the Rams, Linehan will probably have to rebuild his reputation for at least a couple years before anyone considers him a head-coaching candidate again. Also, because he’s been out of a job since the Rams fired him early in the season, the 49ers had the opportunity to talk with him before Martz was fired. Of course, if Linehan is hired, this would be the second time he will have followed Martz. And that does not bode well for Isaac Bruce. After all, Linehan ran Bruce out of
Rob Chudzinski, Browns offensive coordinator: He is one of the highest-paid assistants in the league. At a reported $2.7 million a year, he makes more than Singletary. He is under contract to the Browns for three more years, but the Browns have given all the assistant coaches the opportunity to interview for other jobs after the firing of coach Romeo Crennel. The Browns had a lot of problems on offense this season, but Chudzinski is still a rising star. Chudzinski was on the 49ers’ preliminary list of potential head-coaching candidates before Nolan was fired. If Singletary had not done such a bang-up job, he probably would’ve gotten an interview for the job.
Greg Knapp, Raiders offensive coordinator: He does not figure to return to the Raiders after Tom Cable stripped him of the play-calling duties. Knapp was 49ers coordinator for three seasons from 2001-’03. He believes in the run game, no question. The 49ers rushed for more than 2,200 yards all three seasons he ran the show. The feeling around the league is that Knapp will probably end up as offensive coordinator with the Seahawks under Jim Mora.
Tom Rathman, Raiders running backs coach: He’s never been a coordinator in the NFL. For years and years, he’s been a blitz pickup guru. He would probably do a very good job. But this might be the biggest hire Singletary ever makes. Might he want to go with someone with a track record? Plus, Al would have to allow Rathman to escape.
Gil Haskell, Seahawks assistant head coach/offensive coordinator: I’ll include his name only because I know somebody will ask about him. We don’t know for sure whether new Seahawks coach Jim Mora plans to keep Haskell around. But it won’t be as offensive coordinator. Haskell, 65, is a native San Franciscan. He has been Mike Holmgren’s right-hand man. Haskell helps a lot with scheme and game-planning, but Holmgren is the one who always called the plays.
Maurice Carthon, Cardinals running backs coach: He followed Bill Parcells from job to job for a while. But when he was on his own as Browns offensive coordinator, it was a disaster. He resigned after six games in 2006. Also, the 49ers would have to receive permission from the Cardinals to add him to their staff.
Brian Billick, former Ravens coach: He was a successful head coach, compiling an 85-67 record and a Super Bowl title in nine seasons. He has an offensive background, but the Ravens were a defensive-driven team. There’s no reason a person with his track record should go back to being a coordinator. I would think he’d either want to be a head coach or a talking head on TV.
Jim Fassel, former Giants coach: There’s nothing gimmicky about his offensive approach. He wants to be a head coach (who doesn’t?), and he’s reportedly been a pen pal of Al Davis in hopes of being considered for the Raiders job. Would he want to return to being a coordinator?
Mike Shanahan, former Broncos coach: There is no chance he’s taking a coordinator’s position with anybody. His next coaching job will be as a head coach.
The other category, which does not make much sense to me, is the young QB coach who has never been an NFL coordinator. But why would a neophyte head coach take on a coordinator who has never done it before? Sounds like it would be inviting a Jim Hostler situation.
Nevertheless, among those candidates are Saints quarterbacks/passing game Pete Carmichael Jr. (might not fit the mold because Singletary wants a run-oriented scheme); Panthers passing game coordinator/quarterbacks Mike McCoy (same drawback as Carmichael Jr.); and Titans quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson (assistants from the Panthers and Titans staffs could be attractive because of those team’s strong running philosophies). He’s not young (55), but another possibility could be Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements. Both Carmichael and Clements are out of the playoffs, so they could conceivably be hired right away – as long as their clubs allow them to leave.
The 49ers could dip into the college ranks to find a coordinator. This seems less plausible. Nowadays, there seems to be little resemblance, offensively, between what works at the college level and what’s done at the pro level.
I’m kicking myself today for failing to ask Singletary if anyone from his current 49ers staff would be considered for the coordinator position. The answer is probably not. After all, Mike Nolan only promoted from within (Jim Hostler) after he had no other outside options following Norv Turner’s late departure in 2007.
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