Programming note: Watch Jim Tomsula's introductory press conference today at 3 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, and streaming live right here
SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers have officially “released” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and secondary coach Ed Donatell from their contracts, making them NFL coaching free agents.
In essence, Fangio and Donatell were fired, a source told CSNBayArea.com on Thursday. The 49ers' entire staff is under contract for next season, but the organization would be relieved of most or all of the financial burden if the coaches find jobs elsewhere. Fangio and Donatell are believed to be part of near-complete 49ers coaching staff makeover, sources said.
Linebackers coach Jim Leavitt has also been fired, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Another source said general manager Trent Baalke informed the men they would not longer be employed by the 49ers while new coach Jim Tomsula worked to begin putting together his staff.
Among the candidates to join the 49ers staff, according to sources, are Jason Tarver and Dennis Allen. Tarver’s contract as Raiders defensive coordinator expired this week. Allen is the former Raiders head coach, who was previously defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos.
Fangio was the first candidate to interview with the 49ers for their head-coaching position. He figures to be a hot candidate for any team that has an opening at defensive coordinator. The 49ers previously blocked him from interviewing with Washington, but now he can pursue any job without restrictions.
In four seasons with Fangio as Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator, the 49ers annually defense ranked in the top five in the NFL. This season might have been his best job, as the 49ers still managed to rank fifth in the NFL despite a depleted roster.
All-Pro inside linebacker NaVorro sat out the entire season as he rehabilitated a severe knee injury he sustained in the NFC Championship game. Outside linebacker Aldon Smith missed the first nine games of the season due to an NFL suspension. And seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis played in just 5 ½ games before opting for season-ending toe surgery.
Donatell drew rave reviews for his handling of the secondary. Despite a defensive backfield ravaged by injuries, including to top cornerback Tramaine Brock, the 49ers’ pass defense ranked fifth in the NFL and led the league with 23 interceptions.
Donatell interviewed for the Washington defensive coordinator position earlier this offseason.
Insider Matt Maiocco will discuss the release of 49ers coaches Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell on Yahoo! SportsTalk Live tonight at 5 , 7, and 11 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.