The 49ers will interview Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson on Sunday regardless of whether his team exits the playoffs Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And that begs the question . . .
If the Bengals make a deep run into the playoffs, are the 49ers going to wait for Hue? (Jim Daly)
Jackson, 50, is considered a top candidate for the 49ers’ opening -– perhaps, the top candidate. If Jackson projects what the 49ers hope to see on Sunday, he could very well become the next head coach sooner than later.
A year ago, the Atlanta Falcons knew they had their guy, Dan Quinn, while the Seattle Seahawks advanced all the way to the Super Bowl. If the 49ers plan to hire Jackson, they can go ahead and wrap that up behind the scenes, like the Falcons did with Quinn, and start putting Jackson’s plan in place to round out his coaching staff even as the Bengals are still playing.
Some sources said they expect the 49ers to have a new coach early next week. Jackson and Chip Kelly, whom general manager Trent Baalke and CEO Jed York interviewed on Thursday, appear to be the top two candidates. Anthony Lynn had a good interview, according to sources, and the 49ers would like to speak with Dirk Koetter, too.
Who would the most likely DC be if the 49ers hire Hue? (Peter Moreira)
The most-likely candidate appeared to be Bengals defensive backs coach Vance Joseph, according to sources. The Bengals blocked Joseph from interviewing for the Denver Broncos’ defensive-coordinator position a year ago. But all indications are that Joseph would be able to follow Jackson as a coordinator. However, the NFL Network reports Joseph is expected to be Adam Gase's coordinator with the Miami Dolphins. So it's back to the drawing board on that one.
What about who could be defensive coordinator for Chip Kelly? (Gary Parks)
Kelly undoubtedly presented ideas for his future staff when he met with the 49ers. But the problem with Kelly is his limited amount of NFL experience, which influences the breadth of the pool of available candidates to join his staff. That, of course, was a major problem for Jim Tomsula, who had only been with the 49ers and did not have a lot of contacts through the years from which to choose.
Why isn't Holmgren even considered? (Rammise Rhodes-Meraz)
Clearly, the 49ers have not been interested in turning the page back to a coach who was last on the sideline in 2008. We can understand the attractiveness of going with a younger coach who has worked continuously in the league through those seasons. And while Holmgren’s two-plus-year tenure as president of the Browns, ending after the 2012 season, was not exactly smooth sailing, there was no down side in at least reaching out to Holmgren to hear his perspective.
Do you think Anthony Davis will return? (Rick Miramontes)
He said on Twitter that his return is “Guaranteed.” Taking Davis at his word, he will attempt to make a comeback. We should find out before April 4. That’s when the 49ers’ offseason program is scheduled to begin.
“All I can tell you about Anthony Davis in all honesty is he’s retired,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. “And until the NFL sends me a notice that says he’s un-retired, he’s retired.”
How likely is Kaepernick staying on the roster? (Max Moorman)
There are reasons to believe the top candidates, Jackson and Kelly, would want to hold onto Kaepernick.
Kaepernick’s scheduled pay of $13.4 million is not as steep as it sounds. The 49ers received an approximate $3 million credit on his 2015 pay after he went on injured reserve in November. The 49ers also have tons of available salary-cap space. The 49ers own Kaepernick's rights, of course, and the new coach will ultimately make that call.
Kaepernick's relationship with the 49ers front office, including general manager Trent Baalke, appears to be fractured. But this is all about the new coach and Kaepernick. A source said the 49ers are leaving the door open for Kaepernick's return, but he would have to “rebuild relationships in the locker room.”
If the new coach wants a season to work with Kaepernick, he’ll get that chance. It’s questionable whether Kaepernick will be cleared from surgeries on his non-throwing shoulder, throwing thumb and left knee before April 1, when his $11.9 million salary is scheduled to become fully guaranteed. However, he should be physically cleared for a large portion of the offseason program. Even if he’s not on the field, he can work in a more constructive manner with his film study and understanding of the new offense.