We all know who’s calling the plays on the offensive side of the ball, but who’s Chip Kelly going to hire to run the defensive side? Let’s take a look at some of the candidates that are available.
In house candidates:
Eric Mangini – Strong candidate to stay on with Kelly. Mangini’s defense started off slow early on as the younger players weren’t understanding the scheme and their assignments, but after Mangini made some adjustments the defense started playing a lot better. It would be smart for them to keep some of the current staff especially since this is a young group of players. A turnover in staff would create a problem going into the offseason and next season as the younger players would need to adjust to a new scheme and a new boss. Under Mangini the defense finished 29th in total yards, 27th in passing yards, and 29th in rushing yards, but finished 18th in total points allowed.
Tim Lewis – Was the 49ers secondary coach. The players love him and pro bowl safety Eric Reid seems to have given his vote for who should be the next defensive boss.
Lewis has 2 previous experiences running a defense in the NFL 2000-2003 with the Steelers and 2004-2006 with the Giants.
Steelers: (Pts, Yds)
2000: 6th, 7th
200: 3rd, 1st
Giants: (Pts, Yds)
2004: 17th, 13th
2005: 14th, 24th
2006: 24th, 25th
I would consider Lewis as a strong candidate if Chip decides to hire within the current staff. It would also be a smart move to keep him on the staff even if he doesn’t get the coordinator job.
Jason Tarver- Currently the senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach for the 49ers. His first NFL job was back in 2001 with the 49ers and was hired by Bill Walsh and Steve Mariucci as an offensive quality control for 3 years. In 2004 he was promoted to assistant rbs coach and offensive assistant. From 2005-2010 he made the switch to the defensive side and served as the outside linebackers coach for the team. In 2011 he joined David Shaws staff in Stanford as co-defensive coordinator. Finally in 2012 he finally got a shot at running his own defense for the Raiders. He spent 3 seasons with the team and finally this past off season came back to the 49ers. Tarver is known to be a mad scientist of defensive. He would bring a lot of exotic blitz packages to confuse opposing QBS. Chargers QB Philip Rivers and Chiefs QB Alex Smith used to say that it was difficult for them to read what the defense was going to do because of what Tarver was calling. Tarver would be an interesting hire for a defensive coordinator. As long as he stays on the staff I would be happy.
Outside of the organization:
Mike Nolan – We all remember coach Nolan. One of the best dressed coaches that walked the sidelines. Nolan was head coach for the team from 2005-2008. Nolan was handed a bad hand during his time with the 49ers. Alex Smith was drafted as his QB and the coordinator that drafted him Mike McCarthy only spent 1 season with him and then the revolving doors of offensive coordinators began. Nolan has the defensive pedigree to command a defense. 7 Stops as a defensive coordinator in the league. It’s known that Jed York is a big fan of Nolan and was really uncomfortable that he had to fire him in 2008. It would be interesting to see Mike Nolan back. I don’t see it happening, but he might find a job as a position coach.
Greg Manusky – Was Mike Nolans defensive coordinator in San Francisco for 1 1/2 seasons. Manusky has 3 previous stops as defensive coordinator and 2 as a linebackers coach. Just like any of these coaches he would be a great addition to the staff.
Billy Davis – Is currently the Eagles defensive coordinator and was hired by Chip Kelly. Davis has ties to Chip Kelly and defensive backs coach Tim Lewis. When Billy Davis was hired for the defensive coordinator job with the 49ers back in 2005 he was highly recommended by then Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis. Billy davis didn’t fair too well when he was with the 49ers as they ranked near the bottom the 2 seasons he was here. Davis might have a chance to come over from Philly due to his relationship with Chip Kelly.
Jim Schwartz and Lovie Smith – Both are former head coaches who has had success in the NFL. I don’t see either as a strong candidate but are options to consider. They would be great additions to the staff.
So who will be the defensive boss? Eric Mangini is the smart hire due to the fact that he’s been here for a year. He knows the players and the players know him and his scheme. The 49ers need continuity on the defensive side and keeping Mangini would be the best move. I wouldn’t rule out both Jason Tarver and Tim Lewis as I would consider both of them as strong candidates as well, they’ve been here for a year also. If Mangini is hired I would strongly consider retaining both Tarver and Lewis. It would be beneficial for the team to keep both of them.