The 49ers plan to speak with Indianapolis Colts assistant Rob Chudzinski this week about their vacancy at offensive coordinator, and at least one offensive player showed his support for Chudzinski calling the plays in 2015.
On his Instagram account, tight end Vernon Davis wrote: “All I want for Christmas … is to meet Rob Chudzinski.”
It isn’t difficult to see the attraction.
Davis is coming off the roughest season of his career, one that saw him finish with two touchdowns – both in Week 1 – and 245 receiving yards. That’s worse than in his rookie season, when he missed 6 1/2 games with a broken leg, and worse than in 2008, when then-offensive coordinator Mike Martz treated him like a third offensive tackle and rarely included him in the passing game.
The 49ers’ tight ends combined for 433 receiving yards in 2014. Only three other squads – Detroit, Atlanta and Houston – got less from the position.
Chudzinski, meanwhile, is a former college tight end who has a history of getting the most out of the position as a coach.
San Diego’s Antonio Gates, Cleveland’s Kellen Winslow Jr. and Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron all have posted career-high years in receiving yards with Chudzinski, 46, operating either as their position coach or offensive coordinator.
He spent the 2014 season as a special offensive assistant with the Colts. One of Indianapolis’ tight ends, Coby Fleener from Stanford, finished with 51 catches, 774 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. The other, Dwayne Allen, had 395 yards and eight touchdowns.
To this point, the Colts have blocked all interview requests for Chudzinski. His contract, however, expired Monday, and the 49ers and head coach Jim Tomsula expect to speak with him this week.
Two other teams are interested – the St. Louis Rams and the Colts, who’d like to retain his services. Indianapolis, however, already has an offensive coordinator in Pep Hamilton, and the team would have to shuffle its staff to keep Chudzinski.
The Rams seem to be circling former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. They met with Hackett once already and have scheduled a second interview, indicating that he is high on their list.
The 49ers, meanwhile, are zeroing in on Chudzinski. Another potential coordinator, Lane Kiffin, will remain at the University of Alabama, the school announced. Mike Shanahan has been mentioned as a possible candidate, as has Geep Chryst, the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach the past four seasons.
On the defensive side, Tomsula met over the weekend with former New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell about taking charge of San Francisco’s defensive backs. Fewell also is drawing interest from Washington and could end up in Cincinnati as well.
If the Bengals allow their secondary coach, Vance Joseph, to interview with Denver, Joseph likely will become the Broncos’ defensive coordinator. Fewell then could replace Joseph in Cincinnati.
The 49ers, at one point, were eying Joseph as their defensive coordinator. However, they will hire Eric Mangini for that post instead.
The ultra-secretive 49ers have yet to acknowledge any new hires to Tomsula’s staff. A number of coaches, however, already are working in the building. One of them, special-teams coach Thomas McGaughey, posted a photo of the 49ers’ trophy case, complete with five Lombardi trophies, on social media with the message: “When I get to work every morning now, this is the first thing I see.”
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.