Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell, both of whom are under contract with the 49ers for 2015, reportedly are on Washington's list of replacements for recently fired defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
The Washington Post reported today that the 49ers have granted permission for Donatell, San Francisco’s defensive backs coach, to interview but not yet for Fangio, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator.
ESPN's Adam Schefter Thursday reported that the two 49ers assistants, along with Chargers linebackers coach Joe Barry, are on Washington's list and that the team is trying to set up interviews. Washington requested an interview with Fangio a year ago for its head-coach opening, but because the 49ers went deep into the playoffs, he never interviewed.
Fangio and Donatell signed contract extensions in the offseason. Both are highly coveted by the 49ers, and they have denied Donatell the opportunity to interview for defensive coordinator positions with the Saints and Buccaneers in previous years. Both men have been instrumental in making the 49ers one of the top defenses in recent years, especially this most recent season when injuries and off-the-field issues ravaged the unit.
The 49ers interviewed Fangio, who has a strong backing from players, for their head-coach opening on Tuesday. If the team bypasses Fangio, depending on the identity of the news coach, he and the 49ers likely would part ways. Under that scenario, the 49ers may want to promote Donatell to defensive coordinator, a post he's held with the Falcons and Packers in the past. They also could consider elevating defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to defensive coordinator.
Fangio, meanwhile, would get plenty of opportunities to be a defensive coordinator, including with Washington. His 49ers have finished in the Top 5 in each of his four years with San Francisco. The defense ranked fifth this year despite ending the season without Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Ray McDonald, and having missed Aldon Smith for nine games due to a suspension.
The Arizona Cardinals, for instance, could seek Fangio as their defensive coordinator should Todd Bowles -- who is considered a head-coach candidate by several teams, including the 49ers -- move on. Fangio and Arizona head coach Bruce Arians once worked together in Indianapolis and Arians spoke highly of Fangio to 49ers reporters last week.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are scheduled to interview Jets head coach Rex Ryan on Sunday, the NFL Network reported. That will come after a Friday interview in Denver with Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Ryan and Fangio worked alongside one another in Baltimore at one time; it's not known whether Fangio would work under Ryan in San Francisco.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.