SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers wanted to know whether they could reel former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio back to the Bay Area but his current team, the Chicago Bears, will not release him from his contract.
Fangio, according to sources, was identified by Kyle Shanahan as someone he'd like to see run his defense. The 49ers are expected to formally offer Shanahan, the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, their head-coaching job once Atlanta's season ends.
Fangio, however, remains under contract with the Bears for one more season and Chicago was not interested in letting him out early. In December, there were rumors out of Chicago that the Bears would part ways with Fangio.
It's not known who else Shanahan is eying as a potential defensive coordinator, although he spent time in Washington with Jim Haslett and has been on the same Falcons staff as two other potential candidates, Marquand Manuel and Raheem Morris. The 49ers also have looked at former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley, who has drawn interest from Washington and the Los Angeles Chargers as well.
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Fangio's 49ers units were some of the best in the NFL when he was in San Francisco and 49ers players who remain in the locker room undoubtedly would have welcomed his return.
San Francisco tied for the league lead in takeaways in 2011, Fangio's first season in the Bay Area. The 49ers finished among the Top 5 defenses in the league all four years he was in place.
The 49ers interviewed Fangio for their head-coaching opening in 2015 but the job went to his defensive line coach, Jim Tomsula, instead.
Tomsula, meanwhile, is being considered for the vacant defensive line job in Washington.