Programming note: 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco is on the ground in Indianapolis to cover the NFL Combine. Check back for his coverage all weekend and get the full report on SportsNet Central every night at 6 and 10:30 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Eric Mangini, a former small-college nose tackle with a background as a defensive coach, is qualified to be the 49ers’ tight ends coach because, quite simply, he’s a football coach, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said.
“He’s a foot-ball coach,” said Harbaugh, sounding out every syllable Thursday at the NFL scouting combine.
Mangini replaces former NFL tight end Reggie Davis, who moves into a 49ers coaching role on the offensive line, where he will work with longtime NFL offensive line coach Mike Solari.
Mangini, 43, assisted 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman with game-planning from a defensive perspective in his role last season as senior offensive consultant. He analyzed the opposition’s defensive personnel and presented Roman with concepts he expected the opponent to implement against the 49ers.
He spent time with all the 49ers’ offensive position groups last season, Harbaugh said. Mangini was stationed in the coaching booth during games and Harbaugh consulted with him about possible replay challenges. The 49ers were successful on just two of their eight replay challenges during the regular season.
“He did a great job, invaluable to us last year,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a helluva coach.”
Mangini had a defensive background before Harbaugh hired him. He played nose tackle at Wesleyan University (Conn.) and served as a defensive coach with the New York Jets and New England Patriots. He was head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2009 and ‘10 after three seasons as head coach of the New York Jets. Mangini worked two seasons as an NFL analyst at ESPN before joining the 49ers last year.
“He has a very extensive resume as a football coach,” Harbaugh said. “He’s spent the whole season on the offensive side of the ball last year. You’re talking about a guy who’s coached 10, 11 guys at a position, an entire defense. He’s coached an entire team. So he’s more than qualified to coach three, four or five tight ends.”
In three seasons under Reggie Davis’ coaching, Vernon Davis caught 160 passes for 2,190 yards and 24 touchdowns in 47 regular-season games. He produced another 27 receptions for 600 yards and seven touchdowns in eight postseason games.
Mangini will also be entrusted with the task of continuing to develop Vance McDonald, who was used primarily as a blocker in extensive playing time as a rookie. McDonald caught just eight passes for 119 yards after the 49ers selected him in the second round of last year's draft.
“It’s a very valuable position to us,” Harbaugh said. “The tight end position is involved in everything, run game, pass game. (It’s) critical. I truly believe he’ll do a great job. Or I wouldn’t have done it.”
Reggie Davis takes over the vacancy created when Tim Drevno left his work with the 49ers’ offensive line to become USC’s offensive line coach and run-game coordinator.
“It’s a great reward for Reggie, who’s done a fantastic job coaching our tight ends, for his development as a coach, possibly as a coordinator some day, to be able to work with Mike Solari,” Harbaugh said. “And there’s a carryover with the tight ends and tackles.”
Davis and Harbaugh were teammates for two seasons with the San Diego Chargers in 1999 and 2000. Davis coached on Harbaugh’s 2004 staff at the University of San Diego before moving on to the UNLV and Oregon State before joining Harbaugh’s initial 49ers staff in 2011.
In another coaching staff move, Ejiro Evero is moving from offensive assistant to defensive assistant, taking the position previously held by Peter Hansen, who left to coach Stanford inside linebackers.