The 49ers will interview Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel for their vacant defensive-coordinator position on Tuesday, a source confirmed.
New 49ers coach Chip Kelly last week interviewed Eric Mangini, who served in that capacity on Jim Tomsula’s staff last season. Vrabel becomes the second known candidate for the job.
Vrabel spent the past two seasons as linebackers coach with the Texans. He spent the previous three seasons coaching linebackers and defensive linemen at Ohio State.
Vrabel, 40, had a 14-year NFL career after spending his first four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. During his eight years with the New England Patriots, Vrabel was on three Super Bowl-winning teams. He finished his career with two seasons in Kansas City.
When Vrabel became a coach at Ohio State in 2011, Patriots coach Bill Belichick released a statement that was posted on the school’s website.
“During his Patriots career, there was no player more respected for his football intellect and revered for his leadership by his teammates than Mike,” Belichick said. "He was elected a team captain by his peers and is a player who I think everyone knew was destined to become a coach after his NFL playing career was over.
"Mike Vrabel is as well-suited for coaching as any player I have ever coached. He has a tremendous feel for people, players, coaches and what his team needs regardless of the situation. He is outstanding in his knowledge of the game, which contributed to his excellence as a player. I have no doubt Mike will develop tough, intelligent, fundamentally sound winners."
Kelly and Belichick have built a relationship through the years, beginning when Kelly was at New Hampshire and regularly visited Belichick to exchange ideas.
Kelly has not announced any hires on his 49ers coaching staff, but defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro and assistant defensive line coach Mike Dawson are expected to be on that list. Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell has also been hired, reports Fox Sports.
Tomsula tried to hire Bicknell last year off Kelly’s Eagles staff to become offensive coordinator, but Bicknell reportedly opted to remain in Philadelphia as receivers coach.
Adam Henry, who served as 49ers’ receivers coach last season, was reportedly hired by the New York Giants. Henry coached Giants receiver Odell Beckham at LSU.
Kelly is expected to hire Ryan Day as offensive coordinator, according to ESPN. Day worked as Kelly’s quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia. He was a three-year starter at New Hampshire under Kelly.