San Francisco 49ers

49ers’ coaching search takes shape; players pitch for Fangio

Linebacker NaVorro Bowman, for one, wants to see defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, center, return.
Linebacker NaVorro Bowman, for one, wants to see defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, center, return. The Associated Press

Members of the 49ers’ defense Monday did not shy away from expressing their desire to see Vic Fangio return next season either as the team’s defensive coordinator or possibly its new head coach.

The 49ers are expected to interview two internal candidates for the job: Fangio and defensive-line coach Jim Tomsula.

“I would like to see Vic Fangio here,” linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “Now whether that’s head coach or (defensive coordinator), I would like to see him here. … We’ve just built so much, there’s a lot of chemistry there with the guys that have been here for the four years with him. I don’t think we want to lose that.”

Outside linebacker Dan Skuta said he and other pending free agents would have one-on-one meetings with general manager Trent Baalke this week. Skuta said he planned to pitch Fangio at that time.

“It’s going to be a big deal to me,” Skuta said when asked if Fangio will influence whether he returns. “I like Vic a lot, I like what he’s done, and I like his defense. So that’s going to mean a lot to me going forward.”

As far as outside candidates, the 49ers have requested permission to speak with Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, according to a league source. Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn were also connected to the 49ers’ coaching search, as were another two offensive coordinators, Cleveland’s Kyle Shanahan and New England’s Josh McDaniels.

The 49ers said they would conduct their search in the manner in which they do everything else – behind closed doors.

“Are we ever transparent in what we do?” general manager Trent Baalke said. “This is going to be a search we’re going to conduct with a small group of people involved. A very small group.”

Offensive tackle Joe Staley agreed with his defensive teammates that continuity was needed in the offseason.

“I really don’t honestly think we need a full overhaul,” Staley said. “I don’t think we need some drastic, huge change. There are things we need to change, in terms of mentality, accountability, different things like that. But in terms of an overall scheme and huge change and blow up the place, that doesn’t need to happen. We have the talent and the guys in the locker room to get it done.”

Smith’s future – Defensive end Justin Smith, who said Sunday he would talk to the media about his future in the league, was a no-show Monday during the open locker room session.

Linebacker Patrick Willis, however, said he would spend the offseason pestering Smith about returning for a 15th season.

“I’m going to talk to his little boys ... and see if they can run him a little ragged and get him back over this way,” Willis said.

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