49ers' head coaching candidates
The search is on...
The 49ers will have their seventh head coach in 15 seasons as they begin their search to replace Jim Tomsula, who finished 5-11 in his only season before getting fired on Sunday night after the team’s season-ending overtime victory against the St. Louis Rams. General manager Trent Baalke said there are no in-house candidates. And it appears obvious the 49ers need a coach with an offensive background. What follows is a list of possible candidates for the job. --Matt Maiocco
Chip Kelly, former Philadelphia and Oregon coach
Kelly has sat down with 49ers brass to discuss their head coaching vacancy, according to a source. After starting with two 10-6 seasons in Philadelphia, Kelly was ousted with one game remaining in a 7-9 season as much for how things soured off the playing field. Kelly put together top-five offenses in his first two seasons, but his unit fell to middle of the pack this year. Kelly is said to have a good relationship with Tom Gamble, who was let go in Philadelphia and is back with the 49ers as senior personnel executive. --Matt Maiocco
Hue Jackson, Cincinnati offensive coordinator
The 49ers interviewed Jackson for their opening in 2011, when Jim Harbaugh got the job, and will do so again in 2016. Jackson is seen as an innovative offensive mind. He would run the offensive show with the 49ers. His only previous head-coaching experience was with the Raiders. Al Davis hired him, and Mark Davis fired him after an 8-8 season in 2011. The 49ers have requested permission to speak with Jackson. He would become available once the Bengals are out of the playoffs. --Matt Maiocco
Anthony Lynn, Buffalo assistant head coach/running backs
Lynn had the first-known interview set up for the 49ers’ vacancy. An interview with Lynn would satisfy the requirements under the NFL’s Rooney Rule. Lynn reportedly also has an interview set up with the Miami Dolphins. He moved to Buffalo from the New York Jets, where he was a trusted member of Rex Ryan’s staff. Lynn has never been in charge of an offense. He played for the 49ers in 1995 and ’96. --Matt Maiocco
Mike Shanahan, former Denver and Washington coach
Shanahan interviewed extensively with Trent Baalke for the opening last year, but he did not make the list of the top-two candidates. ESPN's Dianna Russini reported Shanahan, 63, will get another interview with the 49ers, but the report was updated to reflect that a potential meeting is "on hold for now." Shanahan's tenure in Washington ended after the 2013 season under a lot of turmoil. Shanahan has two Super Bowl victories on his resume. But in the 14 seasons that followed his pairing with Hall-of-Fame quarterback John Elway, Shanahan’s teams won only one playoff game.
Adam Gase, Chicago offensive coordinator
Gase was the finalist last year and he was strongly considered ahead of Tomsula. Gase was under the impression he was going to get the job. But the 49ers ultimately did not believe he was ready to become a head coach, sources told CSNBayArea.com. Gase should attract interest for other openings, and it’s doubtful either side will want to revisit the possibility of reconnecting after last year
Josh McDaniels, New England offensive coordinator
McDaniels was considered a top candidate for the 49ers’ opening last year. He interviewed for the position. McDaniels has previous head-coaching experience, but that did not end well. He was fired after going 3-9 with the Broncos in 2010, his second season. The 49ers are not convinced McDaniels learned from that experience to not repeat some of the same mistakes.
Mike Holmgren, former Green Bay and Seattle coach
Holmgren won a Super Bowl with the Packers in 1996. The native San Franciscan coached under Bill Walsh and George Seifert. He has made no secret of his desire to coach the 49ers. He has not coached since 2008. But Holmgren, 67, did not get an interview with the 49ers last year. The 49ers have not reached out to Holmgren about the head-coaching position, but what's surprising is they've never even contacted informally to hear his ideas for what the team needs.
David Shaw, Stanford coach
He has been ultra-successful in running a pro-style program while stepping out of the shadow of Jim Harbaugh with the Cardinal. Just about any college or NFL program would be fortunate to have him on its side. But there has been no indication he is in play for an NFL job. If he were available, the 49ers would certainly have interest.
Todd Haley, Pittsburgh offensive coordinator
Haley has previous head-coaching experience. He was 19-26 in three seasons with Kansas City from 2009 to ’11. He has spent the past four seasons in charge of the Steelers' offense. Pittsburgh ranked second in the NFL last year and No. 3 this season. Baalke broke into scouting under his father, Dick Haley, a longtime NFL executive.
Sean Payton, New Orleans head coach
UPDATE: On Jan. 6, Sean Payton announced that he will stay in New Orleans next season...... With all the upheaval of the past, the 49ers need a coach who is capable to remaining in one spot for a while. Payton just concluded his ninth season with the Saints, where he has compiled an 87-57 record with a Super Bowl championship after the 2009 season. His offenses have ranked first in the NFL in five of the past nine seasons. This year, the Saints were second. Payton remains under contract to the Saints, but the 49ers appear interested in pursuing a trade to land him. Payton and Baalke share close connections to Bill Parcells. --Matt Maiocco