Welcome back to another edition of the “Monday Heckle” with me, your friendly neighborhood Heckler! Today I will be addressing the 49ers Head Coaching search, or the perceived lack thereof. I will be reviewing the list of potential Head Coaching candidates, as well give my opinion on a handful of people on the list that have a really great chance of landing the job. Some on the list are obvious choices to be interviewed, some on the list bring a feeling of despair to a lot in the Nation, while still others give the Nation a feeling of intrigue and suspense (in a good way) for what could possibly come. One way or another though, I look at what is taking so long for Trent Baalke and Jed York to make their first HUGE decision of their Era. So without further ado, here we go.
49ers Head Coaching Search
Trent Baalke told the media that he (and the 49ers organization) wanted to conduct, and conclude, the Head Coaching search in about “seven to ten days minimum”. In Baalke’s defense, I guess he did mention that, “We’re going to take as long as necessary to make sure we have the right person in place,”. Although I am sure no one in the Niner Nation thought that it was going to take this long. Those statements came on December 29, 2014. So 2 weeks later the 49ers are still looking for their next Head Coach, though they have interviewed at least 8 candidates (with another 2 or 3 over the horizon depending on when their playoff exits actually happen). To read the entire article about the Baalke and York press conference click here (it also has video).
So here are the list of names that have either been interviewed by the 49ers, or are on deck to be interviewed:
-Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn (interviewed Dec. 30)
-49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio (interviewed Dec. 30)
-Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase (interviewed Jan. 2)
-Former Los Angeles Raiders/Denver Broncos/Washington coach/49ers offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan (interviewed Jan. 3)
-New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (interviewed Jan. 3)
-Former New York Jets coach Rex Ryan (interviewed Jan. 4 – HIRED by the Buffalo Bills)
-Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin (interviewed Jan. 8)
-Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles (interviewed Jan. 9)
-49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula
-Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan
-UCLA coach Jim Mora
-Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak
The names that stand out to me from that long list of names are: Vic Fangio, Josh McDaniels, and the Shanahans
Vic Fangio is the popular choice. From players on the 53 man roster, to most of the 49ers fan base Vic Fangio would be a calm and welcome transition from the Jim Harbaugh Era. It not only would give the players someone who they could trust immediately, but there would be some continuity with that hire. Fangio is so respected by his peers, the media, and the players sites like Bleacher Report think that his hiring could possibly convince guys like Justin Smith and Frank Gore to play for one more year with the 49ers, instead of leaving elsewhere (or retiring in the case of Justin Smith).
Also there is no guarantee that the 49ers would retain Vic Fangio as their Defensive Coordinator if he was passed up for the Head Coaching job. If that were to have happen then the 49ers would be once again rudderless, except this time it would be on the other side of the ball. Maybe that’s what Jed and Trent want though, he is after still a Harbaugh guy. Either way, not the best way to start a new Era of “reloading, not rebuilding” if Fangio walks too.
Chances Fangio gets the job: 70% and trending down
Josh McDaniels is trending up these days as he, and his New England Patriots try to make another run at the Lombardi Trophy. McDaniels is such a hot topic in the HC vacancy talks that even Niner Nation’s, David Neumann wrote an article entitled: “The case for and against Josh McDaniels as 49ers head coach”. McDaniels has succeeded in leading the Patriots offense, regardless of personal (sans Tom Brady of course, he’s been the constant), or scheme. The pundits will clearly point out that McDaniels failed in Denver in his first time around (they did start 6-0 before losing 17 of the next 22), that McDaniels has had the benefit of Belichick and Brady to work under/with, and the 49ers need an established Head Coach to transition from the chaos that was the Jim Harbaugh Era. True. But just like Belichik, and Mike Shanahan (we’re getting to him), McDaniels could benefit in his second time around as Head Coach. He has already proven that he is a great recruit when it comes to building a staff of assistants. He also knows a bit about offensive football, he could definitely help in the career growth of a certain #7 that starts at QB for the 49ers. Unfortunately for the 49ers, there are a lot of teams eyeing McDaniels. We will have to wait and see what happens.
Chances McDaniels gets the job: 50% and trending up
Now that is a nice transition if I do say so myself, and I do. I listed this as “The Shanahans” because if Mike Shanahan does get hired by the 49ers to be their next Head Coach, there are rumors that exist that say Kyle Shanahan would be coming along with his dear old dad to be the 49ers Offensive Coordinator. First, here are the good things that are associated with interviewing Mike Shanahan and making him one of your potential favorites for the job.
The Shanahan’s know how to use a QB like Colin Kaepernick. They have had experience with RGIII, and they know how to run an offense that will utilize Kaep’s strengths and not focus on his weaknesses. Mike Shanahan also is from the Bill Walsh family tree, and as Offensive Coordinator helped Steve Young get that “Monkey off his back”. He would be the closest thing to what Jed and Trent want. He could be a teacher, a leader, a mentor, a father figure, etc. He potentially has the ability to convince Fangio that it would be for the best, for all parties involved, if he stayed on as the Defensive Coordinator (which could lead to Justin Smith hanging one for one more year, instead of retiring). He also could potentially convince the Franchise that they need to resign Frank Gore, even if it is for just one more year.
Now here are the bad things associated with hiring the Shanahan’s. There is no accountability anywhere. They are a father and son duo. They showed in Washington that in the face of a disagreement, they are going to have each others back and no one else’s. The situation with RGIII was just as much the Shanahan’s fault as it was RGIII’s. They ran RGIII into the ground, and he will no longer be the player he once was. I know, I know. We all saw it happen. Mike Shanahan played RGIII too early and potentially ruined his football career. It seemed like Shanahan was trying to save his own job, instead of looking out for a potential Superstar in the making. Mike Shanahan hasn’t won since John Elway retired from the Broncos, and he is potentially out of touch with today’s game, and athlete. This one is the big one. There are some that think that Mike Shanahan is getting all of this love from NFL teams because, he is the last on left of the “Super Bowl winners that aren’t coaching anymore”. When I say “last of his kind”, I mean he hasn’t settled down in an analyst’s chair yet. Cowher, Gruden, Dungy, and Jimmy Johnson (I’m sure I’m missing someone, but you get the point) all have nice, cushy, HIGH PAYING SALARY jobs where they don’t have to grind anymore. Shanahan is the last of the old school grinders left out there, do he always gets some love when he’s not a Head Coach somewhere. So he’s always going to be a “sexy name” because he’s the only one available that has a Super Bowl ring to show off.
Chances Shanahan gets the job: Either 0% or 50%, either way he is trending forever up
If I were a betting man (I am by the way), I would have to guess that the Head Coaching job is between Josh McDaniels and Vic Fangio at this point, with Adam Gase (of the Broncos) VERY CLOSE on their heels . There might be some more interviews (Gase again potentially), but those are my leaders heading into the clubhouse. Having said that Jed and Trent had better do their due diligence in the mean time. Just because Josh McDaniels would like to be a Head Coach somewhere doesn’t mean he is going to say, “Yes to the Headset”. Also if you wait too long Vic Fangio may not want the job either. If that were to happen you just alienated your Defensive Coordinator, and you still don’t have a Head Coach to speak of. Be careful guys, be very careful, you are traversing a slippery slope. You don’t want to fall off just because you weren’t paying attention. Anyhow my final thought on this is: I would go with Josh McDaniels as my next Head Coach.
Thanks for stopping by and keep an eye out for another, “Midweek Musings with The Heckler” later this week. Until then I will see you next week for another session of “The Monday Heckle”.