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The falling of the axe, the handing out of pink slips, call it what you may, this is the time of the year when head football coaches are shown the door. Head coaches who have failed to deliver a level of success that would justify them retaining their jobs, are relieved of their duties, as everything boils down to wins. This annual occurrence, which is usually quick to follow after week 17, is a cruel reminder that the NFL is a business. Owners divvy out millions of their own funds in hopes of shaping together a perennial contender, and in many cases they receive a poor return on their investment in the form of a sub .500 season. In such situations, the blame is usually placed squarely on the shoulders of the man whose responsibility it is to prepare the players, the head coach. And to nobody's surprise, the head football coach's head is usually the first to roll.
The National Football League is not the only league which will be looking to hire new head coaches this off-season. Football programs at the collegiate level also can their fair share of head coaches, leaving an abundance vacancies, and presenting many opportunities for head coaching hopefuls.
The firing of head coaches leaves a massive void within a team's coaching staff, one which needs to be immediately filled. NFL general managers and owners scour the league in hopes of finding the heir apparent to their recently fired head coach. Many times coordinators or assistant coaches from successful NFL franchises are viewed as legitimate head coaching material by prospective employers. Assistant coaches who hail from successful franchises find themselves in serious contention when it comes to landing an NFL head coaching gig. The NFL head coaching profession is a competitive one, as only 32 people have the title at any given time.
Success is a relatively foreign concept for the 49ers organization, as this is their first winning season since 2002. The new found success is the driving force behind the potential poaching of Coach Jim Harbaugh's assistant coaches by organizations seeking a fresh face to become their head coach.
Some 49ers staff members have track records which garner serious consideration for vacant head coaching positions. They are the following:
Roman has already been interviewed for, and is one of the finalists to land the vacant head coach position at Penn State. Aside from the interest from Penn State, Coach Roman has been offered the head football coaching job at Tulane University, which he declined earlier this year. Roman is no stranger to the world of coaching as he has compiled plenty of experience. This is his 13th season coaching in the NFL, and he also spent 2 years at Stanford University under Jim Harbaugh. Losing Roman would a severe loss for the 49ers, as the 49ers would have to hire a new offensive coordinator, which would be their 9th in as many seasons. The offensive coordinator position has been a revolving door of sorts, and has undoubtedly hindered the progression and development of quarterback Alex Smith. Though Coach Jim Harbaugh controls much of the San Francisco 49ers offense, losing Greg Roman would disrupt the continuity within the organization.
The 49ers defensive coordinator has the most NFL coaching experience of any of the 49ers' staff, this being his 25th season coaching in the league. Referring to the 49ers defense as stout would be degrading, as the unit has continuously dominated opposing offenses throughout the year. Vic Fangio is the mastermind behind the unit, and the sheer high level of play from the defense should result in Coach Fangio being seriously looked at as candidate for head coaching jobs, whether it is in the NFL or NCAA.
He has experience as a head coach in the NFL (albeit a 1 game stint as an interim for the 49ers in 2010) and has coached one of the top defensive lines in the league. As the 49ers defensive line coach since 2007, the fiery Tomsula is in large part to thank for the 49ers stout run defense and their #2 ranked defense. Another thing that Jim Tomsula has going for him is his persona. The 49ers players visibly take a liking to him on the sidelines, and a team who feels strongly about their head coach tends to battle harder for him. Whispers of Tomsula being considered for head coaching vacancies has been quietly heard throughout the league and with the recent success of his defensive line unit, the 49ers should be worried about losing their defensive line coach.
The 49ers linebackers coach is going to find himself in the thick of talks regarding the fulfillment of NCAA head football coaching vacancies. Coach Leavitt has proved himself as a quality college football head coach, having built the University of South Florida's football program from its infancy, to the #2 ranked team in the nation. The football program at USF started in division I-AA in 1997 and just 10 years later Leavitt's squad cracked the top 2 in the BCS rankings. The fast-paced development of a football program by Leavitt justifies his case for landing another gig as an NCAA head football coach.
Losing any of the coaches mentioned above would obviously not be beneficial to the San Francisco 49ers. When a team finds a successful formula, tinkering with it obviously causes much weariness, as you don't want to alter a successful formula. The 49ers organization surely does not want any of their coaches to skip town for head coaching positions elsewhere. Though the desire to retain all coaches is apparent, there is an un-written code in the world of sports to allow staff members to seek out higher ranking positions elsewhere, and the 49ers would undoubtedly comply.
49ers fans should be proud that their organization has reached a high level of admiration in the football world. San Francisco 49ers staff members are looked at in high regard, as they are being considered for many head coaching vacancies. This is a statement of sorts in regards to the position the 49ers franchise is in. The San Francisco 49ers are once again on the rise, which can be partially attributed to the job done by their coaching staff. Football programs are taking notice to the recent success of the 49ers, craving success themselves; they view 49ers assistant coaches as their guide towards prosperity.