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Report: Hue Jackson is the “clear front-runner” for 49ers job

Hue Jackson

Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson looks down on the field during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012. The Chargers won 38-26. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


There could be an exception to the phrase, “Once a Raider, always a Raider.”

Former Oakland coach Hue Jackson could be returning to the Bay Area, as the coach of the biggest Raiders rival not in the AFC West.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Jackson, now the Bengals offensive coordinator, has emerged as the “clear front-runner” in the chase to become the next head coach of a storied franchise that has fallen on hard times. Kawakami adds a caveat; Jackson’s status applies pending his interview on Sunday. And job interviews can change everything, for good or for bad.

Especially when the General Manager is trying to balance a desire to win with the importance of having a coach with whom the G.M. can co-exist.

With Jackson, there’s reason to at least be leery of a potential power grab, because he essentially tried to make one in Oakland after the 2011 season. The fact that he soon was fired may have taught him a valuable lesson about the importance of not trying to take over.

Regardless, Jackson gradually has emerged as one of the hottest candidates on the market, with his expertise on the offensive side of the ball and his ability to connect with players. And it doesn’t hurt that Jackson has ties to the Bengals, since Walsh coached there, too, on his path to becoming coach of the 49ers.

Other candidates to succeed Jim Tomsula include Bills running backs coach Anthony Lynn, former Eagles coach Chip Kelly, and Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

The Browns and Dolphins also are interested in Jackson, who arrived in Cincinnati after leaving Oakland, holding several positions on the staff of Marvin Lewis before becoming the offensive coordinator.