Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports



The San Francisco 49ers' coaching search may be coming to an end as team general manager Trent Baalke and possibly others are in Denver right now for a second interview with Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Team CEO Jed York and president Paraag Marathe were in the first interview alongside Baalke on January 2 in Denver.

The team's next move is an important one. York and company have already been bashed by the media and the fans for allowing the departure of former head coach Jim Harbaugh, who quickly found refuge at his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Management has the difficult task of replacing the successful and popular coach with someone that can be just as, if not more, successful. Failing to do so could mark the decision to move on from Harbaugh as one of the biggest blunders under York's watch.

The 49ers appear to be heavily pursuing Gase, who must have had a fantastic first interview. The team must have figured that his availability would not come until after January 18, possibly not even until after the Super Bowl. The Broncos' early departure from the playoffs moved that timetable up.

Of course, Denver is also interested in Gase, along with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, to replace John Fox who unexpectedly "parted ways" with the Broncos on Monday. That Jed York sure is a trendsetter.

The 49ers have an advantage over the Broncos if they truly want to make Gase their head coach. The Broncos still need to fulfill the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. The 49ers have already fulfilled this requirement so they can hire Gase immediately should they choose to do so. They Broncos will have to wait. In fact, the 49ers got to Gase first and Broncos general manager John Elway is waiting on deck to meet with Gase after his visit with the 49ers.

For fans, there's a lot of unknowns associated with Gase. After all, how much of what the Broncos have done in the past couple of years was him and not their future Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning. In fact, his biggest backer has been Manning. The two are close and Manning thought so much of Gase that he personally called other teams to let them know what a strong candidate Gase is. Of course, this was all before his own team was in need of a head coach.

There is more to Gase than you may have thought. Here is an excellent read by Robert Klempko about Gase (and two others) that may help you realize why the 49ers are so infatuated with the 36-year old. Of course, the article points out that Gase thrives in the passing game. The Broncos' rushing rankings under his tenure have been less impressive while the 49ers strength in recent years has been the running game.

In the article, Mike Martz says, "[Adam Gase] puts guys in position to have success. It would be easy to do the same stuff over and over, but each week he's going to create."

While I am not sold on Gase just yet, it looks like the 49ers may be going all in. There is always that worry that coaches like him are just the product of their talented rosters and the only way to know for sure would be to throw them into the lion's den. It would be a bold move for a 49ers management group that is trying to regain the trust of the fans.

The 49ers previously interviewed Rex Ryan for the head coaching job. Fans can send the Buffalo Bills a thank you muffin basket for making sure that did not happen.

The 49ers have also shown interest in Dan Quinn, the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, Teryl Austin, the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, and Todd Bowles, the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals. However, if you are going to go with a defensive minded coach, why not go with Vic Fangio, who is already familiar with the organization and highly regarded among the players and staff? There is also speculation that Fangio would not be willing to remain with the team if he is passed up for the head coaching job. Of course, if true, that would likely be determined by who the 49ers bring in. While Fangio has already been formally interviewed by the 49ers, word out of Santa Clara is that defensive line coach Jim Tomsula remains the top internal candidate.

I am typically against the idea of bringing in anyone that has been fired by another team or has been out of coaching for a good amount of time. A good example is Mike Holmgren, who was never really on the 49ers' radar anyway. I just like the idea of finding a potentially fresh mind with new ideas. There is more risk, but possibly more potential. However, the idea of bringing in Mike Shanahan, the former head coach of the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos, was a bit intriguing. He may still be a top candidate if the 49ers don't land Gase in the next day or two. Under this scenario, the 49ers may even land his son Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, to take over for Greg Roman, who departed for Buffalo. Maybe the Bills should get two muffin baskets.

Then there is Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots and a candidate the 49ers appear very high on. His availability is unknown as his team looks primed to make a Super Bowl run.

What about the other candidates? It certainly looks like Gase is the 49ers' frontrunner right now with Shanahan and Tomsula as backup plans. Is Gase the guy that they have been waiting on? Or do they have their eyes on others as well? We'll probably find out in the next few hours. His earlier than expected availability has helped his case. What about a guy like Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton? He may be available as early as this weekend. He's done a tremendous job in Indianapolis. Is he even on the team's radar?

Whoever the new coach is, the expectations will be high with York and Baalke's reputation on the line. Hopefully this time, they can get along with whoever they hire.

Who do you want as the 49ers' new head coach? Leave your pick in the comments below.

Update:

Todd Bowles was hired as the new coach of the New York Jets today. Why is this relevant? Because there is now an open defensive coordinator position in Arizona that Fangio may be interested in if Tomsula gets the 49ers' head coaching job over him. Fangio and Bruce Arians coached together in Indianapolis.