Eric Mangini, who spent his first season with the 49ers with the nebulous title of senior offensive consultant, will have a more specific job description in 2014 – tight ends coach.
Reggie Davis, who coached tight ends for the last three years, will be the team’s assistant offensive-line coach, a spot that opened when Tim Drevno was hired to coach the offensive line at USC.
Mangini formerly coached the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. Until last season, his expertise mainly was on defense, but he was brought in by 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to work with the offense by offering a defensive-minded perspective.
Harbaugh also said he consulted Mangini, who watched games from the coaches’ booth, on replay reviews. The 49ers were 2-9 on replay challenges in 2013; only five teams were worse.
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“He has a very extensive résumé as a football coach,” Harbaugh said Thursday when asked what made Mangini right for coaching tight ends. “He spent the whole season on the offensive side of the ball last year. He’s coached an entire defense, an entire team. He’s more than qualified to coach three, four, five tight ends.”
In 2011 and 2012, Mangini, 43, was an NFL analyst for ESPN. After being hired by the 49ers, he was frank about his desire to be a head coach again.
“That’s definitely a goal of mine,” Mangini said in June. “Right now, I’m doing what I can do here as well as I can do it. I think it’s every coach’s goal to eventually do that.”
Mangini met Harbaugh three years ago when the 49ers spent a week in Youngstown, Ohio. Mangini remained close with special-teams coach Brad Seely, Mangini’s assistant when he was the head coach of the Browns, and Seely invited him to the session. Mangini took a trip to Santa Clara early last offseason, when he first discussed a spot on his staff with Harbaugh.
“The great thing that I’ve found with Jim and (offensive coordinator) Greg (Roman) and all the guys here is it’s ego-less,” Mangini said. “And that’s really appealing. Everyone just wants to get to the right answer. And to me, input seems to be really encouraged, and I’m happy to offer it if I think it will help.”
One of Mangini’s main tasks will be to get more production out of No. 2 tight end Vance McDonald, a second-round pick in 2013. McDonald played 480 snaps last season but had just eight catches for 119 yards and no touchdowns.
Boldin priority No. 1 – The 49ers’ coaching staff sent a strong signal they wanted wide receiver Anquan Boldin back in 2014 when they voted him the team’s MVP. Harbaugh stressed that even more Thursday, saying Boldin, who will become a free agent next month, is the team’s “No. 1” priority to re-sign.
“There’s angst, and there’s work to be done,” Harbaugh said. “ ... The direction it’s going is very positive because we’re unanimous. It’s not just me who wants Anquan Boldin back. We feel there’s a process. It could be days, weeks, but there’s a process.”
Boldin, 33, led the 49ers in receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,179) last season. The 49ers can negotiate exclusively with Boldin until March 8.
Baldwin’s salary slashed – Wide receiver Jon Baldwin, who had just three catches in 2013, agreed to reduce his salary from $1.4 million to $645,000. He can make up the difference in incentives but came nowhere close to achieving them during his first season with the 49ers.
If he plays 80 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, finishes with 65 catches and has more than 800 yards, he will earn the $755,000 difference. Last year, Baldwin had only 28 receiving yards and was a healthy scratch at the end of the season. Despite the 49ers’ need for a big receiver – especially early on when Michael Crabtree was absent while recovering from an Achilles’ injury – the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Baldwin never made an impact.
The reduced contract means Baldwin likely will at least begin the offseason with the 49ers.
“I talked about Jon before and how I feel about him, his competitive heart, his ability,” Harbaugh said. “I’m very excited about Jonathan.”