SANTA CLARA -- Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has never been as popular as he is right now.
The 49ers are set to play an NFC divisional-round playoff game Saturday night against the Green Bay Packers, and two of Roman's longtime friends were hired this week as NFL general managers.
Roman, who has head-coaching aspirations, was a candidate for several jobs at major colleges the past two years. He has yet to have an interview for an NFL head-coaching job.
But that could change. Roman attended John Carroll University in Ohio and played football in the 1990s with David Caldwell, the new Jacksonville Jaguars general manager, and Tom Telesco, whom the San Diego Chargers hired as general manager.
Caldwell on Thursday fired Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey, so both teams have head-coaching vacancies. Roman is believed to be a serious candidate for both jobs.
Quarterback Alex Smith believes Roman would be a strong candidate for an NFL job.
"Obviously, I think he's a great coach, and I've loved my time with him," Smith said on Thursday. "He does such a great job and works so hard. (He has a) tremendous amount of knowledge about the game of football. He's coached on both sides. He's coached the quarterback room, coached the O-line room, he knows the passing game and the run game and knows defenses real well.
"I've learned a ton the last two years under him. He's a special coach and works real hard, so I'm happy for any success for him."
During Roman's two seasons as offensive coordinator, the 49ers have featured a diverse run game. He has also sought ideas and input from all the coaches on his offensive staff. Quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst drew up the pass play to tight end Vernon Davis for the game-winning touchdown a year ago in the 49ers' playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints.
"He's very pragmatic, and I think you can see it in our offense the last couple of years," Smith said. "Nothing is just set in stone. He's constantly trying to adapt to our strengths, put guys in positions to succeed. It's very much about the team. He's not worried about stats. He's worried about what's best and what helps us win."
If Roman ends up with the Jaguars, it's possible Smith could join him there. Smith, who was replaced by Colin Kaepernick as the 49ers' starter, is scheduled to make $8.5 million total next season, which is considered way too much for the 49ers to pay a backup. Smith's $7.5 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed if he's on the 49ers' roster on April 1.