SANTA CLARA – The 49ers new offensive consultant, Eric Mangini, spoke to Bay Area reporters Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what he said.
Q: Can you describe the evolution of how all of this came about?
MANGINI: Yeah, initially coming out here, Jim had called me. I was at ESPN driving home, and we had met in Youngstown. He asked me if I wanted to come out for a visit. I said yes, I’d love to come for a visit. And then coming out, spending time here, he started talking about different opportunities, and it evolved from there.
Q: Did you always want to get back into coaching?
MANGINI: The last two years for me were fantastic because I’ve got three little boys, so it gave me a chance to spend time with them and just get refreshed and see things from a different perspective. I loved that part of it, by I missed the competition, I missed the strategy, I missed the guys – all of those elements. One thing that was really important to me when I came back was the people, being out there and seeing the players and how they worked. I know Trent Baalke from my time in New York.
Q: You’ll move here?
MANGINI: I am moved here. I’m staying at the Marriot. I’ll be here, and I’ve got to figure out when my wife and kids will come out.
Q: How much give-and-take was there between Jim’s idea for your role and what you wanted to do?
MANGINI: It’s evolving. It will continue to evolve. I like the idea of working on offense. I think that’s really interesting. I did that my first two years in the league, and I think that’s going to make me a better overall coach, because it gives you a totally different perspective, so if I go back to defense at some point, I’ll be that much more rounded. This is a totally different family tree for me. I was in one family tree for a long time. To see how people do things differently I thought would be great, too.
Q: Did you feel that was a gap when you were a head coach, that most of your experience had come on defense?
MANGINI: I was lucky, because one of the years I spent on offense was with Kirk Ferentz, the head coach at Iowa, with the offensive line and that was really fortunate. All the time when I was on defense, I could go back to that time and say “This is how we protected it,” and that helped. Now, to be able to hopefully help explain what defenses are doing or trying to achieve, ideally I can add some value there.
Q: How familiar are you with the 49ers’ offense?
MANGINI: I wish I was more familiar with it. It’s like learning a totally different language. And that’s the other thing – I’ve been speaking one language for a long time as well. I’m sure I’ll be swimming here initially until I get the terminology down. You may see how a play turns out, but you don’t know what the evolution was, you don’t know what the thought process was. Those things are missing when you’re breaking it down in a vacuum.
Q: When you were at ESPN and you were watching what the 49ers were doing with the pistol, did that spark your interest?
MANGINI: Yeah, I really enjoyed watching it. I got to spend a lot of time talking to Greg Roman as well and getting to know him. I think he’s creative. I think the staff is creative. That’s exciting. To be able to do something new like this is exciting. To be in a place like San Francisco, to me, that was a big part of wanting to come back.
Q: How tricky is it going to be to find your niche with Greg and the staff?
MANGINI: Being a former head coach, you appreciate chemistry, you appreciate the importance of everybody having a role. For me, I just want to help, so whatever that means, whatever that evolves into – that’s the most important thing. I’m open to anything.
Q: Are you signed for one year?
MANGINI: Two years.
Q: So how would you stop Colin Kaepernick?
MANGINI: (Laughs). I would never talk about that. I don’t want to stop it. I want him to run as much as he can and do as many great things as he can.
Q: The way you’re talking makes it sound like you should be paying them instead of them paying you.
MANGINI: I did not agree to that (laughs).
Q: There’s a reason they’re paying you. What do you think you can bring to the team?
MANGINI: I think working 14 years on defense and being a head coach, being able to give a head-coaching perspective, that experience allows you to see things in a totally different way than when I was an assistant. I think even being out of the league for a couple of years and being at ESPN and getting a broader view of what’s happening in the league, maybe that can have value as well.
Q: Have you been thinking about how to stop the read option in theory?
MANGINI: When you look at the emergence of Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and RGIII, you see different ways teams approach it over the course of the last two years. Yeah, I’ve looked at it from that perspective – who’s going to try to pressure it, who’s going to try to cover it. Those types of things.
Q: So your job is to try to stay one step ahead of what defenses are going to adjust to?
MANGINI: Yeah, ideally.
Q: Do you want to be a head coach again?
MANGINI: That’s definitely a goal of mine. Right now I want to do what I can do here as well as I can do it. But I think that’s every coach’s goal.