Before you could say “Rooney Rule,” reports surfaced this morning that the 49ers have requested permission from two teams to interview minority head-coaching candidates: Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
Jackson’s star is on the rise after the Raiders ranked 10th in the NFL in total offense in his first year in Oakland. Prior to his arrival, the Raiders’ offense hadn’t ranked higher than 25th in the league from 2006-09. Jackson, 45, was the quarterbacks coach in Baltimore from 2008-09 and helped develop Joe Flacco, one of the league’s top young quarterbacks.
Fewell, 48, in his first year in New York, led a unit that ranked seventh in the NFL in total defense this season. The Panthers and Browns have reportedly contacted the Giants about interviewing Fewell, who was the Bills’ interim coach for the final seven games of the 2009 season.
Jackson and Fewell are viewed as legitimate head-coaching candidates, but this marks the first time they’ve been connected to the Niners’ opening. Per the Rooney Rule, San Francisco, which is reportedly making an aggressive push for Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, has to interview at least minority candidate before making a hire.
The process has raised questions about president and CEO Jed York’s claim that the Niners would hire a general manager, who would then hire a head coach. San Francisco hasn’t hired a general manager, but vice president of player personnel Trent Baalke has, in effect, handled those duties since March.
It can be reasonably assumed that Baalke or York – or both – are currently handling the head-coaching search.
If it’s Baalke, it adds more legitimacy to last week’s CSN Bay Area and FOX Sports reports stating he would be named the GM.
If it’s York, it goes against his claim that he would not be involved in the search for a head coach.
If the 49ers land Harbaugh, though, I’m guessing they’ll get kudos for moving quickly rather than criticism for deviating from their stated game plan.
If not, welcome new 49ers head coach, Hue Fewell?