The 49ers have yet to hold an interview for their head coach opening. But they have an extensive pile of dossiers after last year’s exhaustive search. And they have a line of candidates eager to discuss the opening this year. Some names:
Sean Payton: The Saints’ coach won a Super Bowl in New Orleans, he knows how to develop quarterbacks, he has ties to general manager Trent Baalke – through a common mentor, Bill Parcells – and he’s expressed interest in the job in the past. The problem is that Payton still has two years remaining on his Saints contract. That means it could take a draft pick or two to pry him loose.
Hue Jackson: The former Raiders head coach runs Cincinnati’s offense, which finished 15th in total yards this season. Like Payton and Mike Shanahan, Jackson has spent much of his professional career working with quarterbacks. One potential issue: The Bengals are in the playoffs, and an interview with Jackson may have to wait. The 49ers have requested permission to interview Jackson.
Todd Haley: The Steelers offensive coordinator also has ties to Bill Parcells, having been a Jets assistant when Parcells was head coach and Baalke was in the scouting department. More significant: Baalke was given his first NFL job by Todd’s dad, Dick Haley. The younger Haley also has head-coaching experience, having run the Chiefs from 2009 before being fired midway through the 2013 season.
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Mike Shanahan: Like Payton, Shanahan is an offensive coach with a track record of developing quarterbacks. The 49ers are expected to add at least one passer this offseason, perhaps in the first round of the draft. The 49ers interviewed Shanahan, 63, a onetime 49ers assistant, last year, and he reportedly remains interested in the job. The Dolphins seem eager to talk to him this year.
Adam Gase: Baalke flew to Denver to meet with Gase last offseason, and it seemed likely he would offer him the 49ers vacant head-coaching job. That offer instead went to Jim Tomsula, which prompted Gase, then the Broncos’ offensive coordinator, to take the same job in Chicago. He was successful there and is perhaps the hottest young candidate available. Gase, 37, already has interviews scheduled with the Eagles, Browns and Dolphins. Will the 49ers come calling again? They obviously have a thick dossier on Gase already. The bigger question is whether Gase will take their calls after being rejected last year.
Vic Fangio: The 49ers should have hired Fangio a year ago. Yes, any coach would have struggled with the team’s roster overhaul, but Fangio is respected and admired around the league and certainly would have attracted a strong staff. Older, experienced assistants have fared well in recent seasons. (See: Bruce Arians and Mike Zimmer). Fangio’s Bears defense went from 30th in 2014 to 14th under Fangio despite a dearth of talent. The 49ers’ defense? It went from fifth to 29th.
Sean McDermott: The 49ers likely are interested in an offensive mind given their struggles there and that they are likely to choose a quarterback for the future -- Blaine Gabbert being a candidate -- during the 2016 season. However, McDermott, the Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator, is compelling. Carolina ranked sixth in total defense and sixth in points this season. The 49ers interviewed a number of defensive coordinators a year ago: Fangio, Dan Quinn, Todd Bowles and Teryl Austin.
Mike Holmgren: There is one job that will coax Holmgren back into coaching, and that’s the 49ers’ head-coaching position. Holmgren has ties to the team’s glory days – he was an assistant under Bill Walsh – and was born in San Francisco. However, the 49ers interviewed nine candidates for head coach last year, and Holmgren was not one of them. Holmgren, 67, said he later was told the 49ers were looking for someone younger.
Chip Kelly: Kelly reportedly has expressed interest in the 49ers’ opening. The former University of Oregon and Philadelphia Eagles coach would employ a creative, aggressive style that would mesh with the 49ers’ high-tech business persona. And he might be able to resurrect Colin Kaepernick’s career. But the bad blood he created among the players in Philadelphia sounded like some of the 49ers’ players complaints after Jim Harbaugh left. Also, Kelly’s offensive style can be tough on his own team’s defense, and finding a defensive coordinator who will work with him might be difficult.
David Shaw: Stanford has been a bountiful well for the 49ers over the years, and Shaw is at the top of the list among college coaches. The NFL Network, however, reported Monday that Shaw is not interested in leaving college.