There is a different side to Black Monday in the NFL, the ceremonial day of coaching staff firings that occur one day after the final week of the season. There are currently seven openings for a head coach around the NFL, and there are successful teams with successful coordinators that are coveted to fill them.
Among the many teams’ wish lists of head coaching candidates are the 49ers. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio have already been mentioned as serious candidates to land several head coaching jobs throughout the NFL, and special teams coach Brad Seely is an attractive option as well.
Roman’s name was immediately tossed in the middle of several team’s head coaching wish lists on Monday.
According to FOX 29’s Howard Eskin, via Twitter, the Philadelphia Eagles have Roman on their list.
Names sources tell me on eag owner jeff lurie coach list. Bill Obrien,dirk koetter,greg Roman,bruce arians,chip kelly @profootballtalk
— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) December 31, 2012
The Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot is also reporting that the Browns have their eye on Roman.
In the same way, Vic Fangio has been thrown into the conversation for a head coaching position in the NFL. He has become one of the best creative minds among defensive coordinators in the league, and his experience as defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans puts him into the category of a qualified candidate.
CSN Bay Area’s Mindi Bach is reporting that Fangio has not been contacted by any teams yet.
“Nobody has called, or even approached me about anything, so I don’t even worry about it,” Fangio said. “To me, it’s nonexistent. If it ever happens, it happens, and we’ll deal with it at that time.”
Jim Harbaugh seems to understand the caliber of his assistants, and the demand the NFL has for up-and-coming football minds that can turn a franchise around.
The 49ers have roughly two weeks between games, but needy teams are allowed to reach out to assistant coaches of playoff teams during the first week. However, interviews cannot take place after wildcard weekend concludes, and teams like the 49ers do not have permission to deny coaches from talking to teams. Roman, Fangio and Seely are expected to be considered by teams this week.
“Yeah, they do," Harbaugh said in response to whether or not his assistant coaches have desires to be head coaches. "I've always tried to hire coaches that had that ambition. I like guys like that -- that have those ambitions, those hopes, those dreams."
Roman and Fangio are more than qualified to become head coaches for NFL teams, but it simply comes down to who stands in front of them, as far as head-coaching candidates are concerned.
Andy Reid, Ken Whisenhunt and Lovie Smith, who were all fired on Black Monday, are expected to land jobs with teams sooner rather than later. That could easily be a road block for assistants like Roman and Fangio, who would become first-time head coaches.
The NFL’s newly-acquired demand for young and creative college football minds may also be a road block for the 49ers assistants. Like Jim Harbaugh was with the 49ers, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Oregon’s Chip Kelly and Syracuse’s Doug Marrone all have the football intelligence to become an NFL head coach, and many teams could lean towards the college ranks instead of choosing coaches with one-track minds in their respective specialties.
If Roman, Fangio and Seely are to be chosen as head coaches this offseason, it would be because they have the experience needed to run a team at the highest level. However, it may take the perfect situation for any of Harbaugh’s assistants to leave. Fangio has been the head of arguably the best defense in all of football since he arrived in San Francisco, and he also has stars Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman locked up through the 2016 season. Roman is one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the NFL, which means the head-coaching job would have to be a very good situation for him to accept. The offensive schemes he could draw up with Colin Kaepernick cannot be found with many other quarterbacks in the NFL.
Whatever decisions both the 49ers’ assistant coaches make, and the ones the head coach-seeking teams make, Roman, Fangio and Seely are coveted in the NFL -- which will only grow in demand as seasons pass.
There are several situations this offseason in which these coaches could be sticking around San Francisco, but the 49ers’ success in back-to-back seasons has NFL teams looking to them as the standard for success, and their coaches as the answer to their franchise’s problems.