San Francisco 49ers

49ers fire head athletic trainer, deny NFL team chance to interview another assistant

The 49ers are making drastic changes as they look to keep their roster healthier in 2019.

After firing head strength coach Ray Wright less than a week after the end of the season, the team confirmed Friday longtime head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson has been let go after 13 years with the organization.

“Following a thorough evaluation, we have determined that now is the right time for a reboot in the structure and protocols of our health and performance areas,” general manager John Lynch wrote in a statement. “On behalf of our entire team, Kyle and I would like to thank Ferg and Ray for the dedication and passion they brought to the 49ers organization. We would like to specifically recognize the contributions Ferg has made to the 49ers over the last 13 years, as he was always ready to extend a caring hand to our players, staff and their families. Both he and Ray are tremendous people whom we respect deeply, and we wish them and their families nothing but the best.”

The 49ers have used injured reserve 41 times over two seasons. Most notably, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending left ACL tear against the Chiefs that ended his first full campaign as the starter three games in.

San Francisco wound up finishing 4-12 and is 10-22 through two seasons under coach Kyle Shanahan.

Throughout 2018, the 49ers dealt with injuries to their top three safeties, top three receivers, top two running backs and top two quarterbacks. Shanahan and Lynch vowed they would take a hard look at their training staff after injuries went a long way toward defining the team’s struggles.

“It’s been too big of a deal for two years. Injuries are pretty random, but it’s also affected us huge,” Shanahan said Dec. 31. “So that’s something that we definitely have to sit back and really look at it from all angles and put a lot of time into. Just try to find a better perspective at it.”

Added Lynch: “Your best ability is availability. We haven’t had a lot of guys available and that’s something we’re looking into hard. It’s been ongoing. We’ll continue to do that because it’s something that needs to change and I don’t think anyone’s to blame. We have been studying it. We’ll continue to and try to get a handle on that.”

Ferguson was a constant with the club, and his name made waves most recently when he was quoted in a story from The MMQB regarding talented linebacker Reuben Foster during the 2017 NFL Draft.

Foster had shoulder surgery after his final season at Alabama and was reportedly taken off many teams’ draft boards because of the injury. But the 49ers weren’t concerned, largely because they had Ferguson’s blessing.

From Peter King’s story about being embedded in San Francisco’s draft room:

Lynch hollered to his chief medical officer, Jeff Ferguson: “You guys worried about his shoulder?”

“What shoulder!” Ferguson yelled back.

Foster’s shoulder turned out to be an ongoing issue for the talented linebacker during his season-plus with the 49ers (of course, more troubling were his issues related to domestic violence that led to his release Nov. 25).

Shanahan and Lynch removed “vice president of football operations” from Ferguson’s job title when they were hired in 2017. In his role, Ferguson oversaw the team’s medical and nutritional needs, rehabilitation procedures, injury records, nutritional program, training room and daily athletic training responsibilities.

49ers nix assistant interview

Rich Scangarello’s ability to help develop quarterbacks has garnered attention from other teams after quickly integrating Garoppolo and Nick Mullens into the fold.

According to an NFL Network report, Scangarello was asked to interview for the Denver Broncos’ offensive coordinator position after the team hired former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to be head coach this week.

But the 49ers denied the Broncos that chance and will keep Scangarello at his post, according to an ESPN report.

Multiple reports initially indicated the Broncos would hire former head coach Gary Kubiak as Fangio’s offensive coordinator, but his name was reportedly removed from consideration due to differing ideas about offensive philosophy, according to an ESPN report. Scangarello might have popped up on Denver’s radar after Mullens threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers win over the Broncos last month.

Scangarello previously worked as an offensive quality control coach under Shanahan with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015, which was sandwiched by roles as offensive coordinator at Wagner College (2016) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Northern Arizona (2012-14).