San Francisco 49ers

49ers coaching notes: If Roman was so awful, why is he so popular?

Despite the 49ers’ offensive struggles in 2014, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has been a popular interview among other teams.
Despite the 49ers’ offensive struggles in 2014, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has been a popular interview among other teams. The Bee

For the last four months, Greg Roman has been the focus of 49ers fan rancor and hasn’t exactly pleased one offensive starter.

But if the team’s offensive coordinator was so terrible, why is he getting so much attention from other squads? So far, the Buccaneers, Bills, Jaguars, Rams and Browns have requested permission to speak with Roman, mostly for offensive coordinator jobs. Roman is still under contract with San Francisco but will not be back.

Roman will interview with the Jaguars today; he’ll be in Cleveland on Monday, a league source said. There may be other interest coming. The Eagles, for example, will be looking for a new offensive coordinator if Pat Shurmur, who has drawn interest from the Raiders and Bills in their coaching searches, moves on.

Roman and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly expressed mutual admiration before the 49ers and Eagles played this year and they have observed the other’s practices when Kelly was at the University of Oregon.

One common thread among the teams interested in Roman: Most have been blown out by San Francisco in recent years. In 2012, for example, the Bills fell 45-3 to the 49ers in a game in which San Francisco became the first NFL team to rush and pass for more than 300 yards each in the same contest.

The next year, the 49ers beat Jacksonville 42-10 and the Buccaneers 33-14. The 49ers’ scored their second-most points this past season in a 31-17 win over the Rams.

Of course, San Francisco also lost 13-10 to the same Rams team three weeks later and had other offensive struggles against St. Louis – including a game that ended in a 24-24 tie – in 2012.

The 49ers’ finished 20th in total yards this season, which wasn’t out of the ordinary for Roman’s offenses, which tended to lean on the running game. What stood out was that the 49ers finished 25th in points after finishing 11th in that category the previous three seasons.

One team source said he analyzed all the plays that the 49ers ran from the opponent’s 35-yard line and in and estimated the team wasted more than 100 points. The biggest culprit: Drops and missing open receivers.

There’s been some speculation – including here four days ago – that tight end Vernon Davis could find his way to Washington in the offseason. Davis grew up in Washington D.C., and the man that drafted him in 2006, Scot McCloughan, was introduced as that team’s general manager on Friday.

Sources, however, said at least two of the 49ers’ head-coaching candidates expressed bewilderment that the 49ers couldn’t get more than 245 yards and two touchdowns from Davis this past season.

That suggests that the new coach will want to retain Davis, the only player currently on the roster with the ability to stretch defenses. Some more reasons to keep Davis: 1.) His salary for 2015 would be hard to trade; 2.) Two other tight ends, Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek dealt with serious back issues in 2014; 3). It’s a down year for tight ends in the draft.

At the University of Michigan, Jim Harbaugh hired Tim Drevno to coordinate the Wolverines’ run game and ex-Jaguars coordinator Jed Fisch to coordinate the passing game. It appears that long-time friend John Morton, the 49ers wide receivers coach who had a significant role in San Francisco’s passing attack, will not join Harbaugh in Ann Arbor. If Roman lands a coordinator position, Morton possibly could join him there.

One of the oddest aspects of the 49ers’ head-coaching search: They have not had an extensive interview with defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to this point. What does that mean? Perhaps the 49ers concluded that promoting a defensive line coach to head coach was impractical and would not give them the continuity on defense they desire. Or maybe they are so familiar with Tomsula, one of the team’s longest tenured assistants, that they feel he doesn’t require a six-hour, get-to-know-you session. Odd.

Former Cleveland offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has been tied to the 49ers in two ways – as coordinator under head coach Vic Fangio and as coordinator under head coach Mike Shanahan. It’s curious, however, that the 49ers have not had an interview with Kyle Shanahan. Also, I’m told that while Shanahan is on Fangio’s list, there are a number of names on that list.

Fangio likely would bolt if Tomsula vaulted him to become head coach. But if the new head coach was an established, offensive coach like Mike Shanahan? It’s unclear. First, Fangio is under contract and will be making a very good salary in 2015. He also would have perhaps a more talented unit in San Francisco than he’d find anywhere else.

One possible rival to that talent? If Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles gets a head-coaching job, Bruce Arians might want to bring Fangio – with whom he coached in Indianapolis and whom he talked up last month – to run the Cardinals defense.

One player who will be intently watching the weekend’s Colts-Broncos game? Running back Frank Gore. His top choice is to remain with the 49ers. But he’s also curious about playing with Andrew Luck and wonders whether a quality tailback is the missing element in Indianapolis’ offense.

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