NFC West: Jeff Ireland

Monday, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh talked about the possibilities of losing some assistant coaches.

49ers’ offensive coordinator Greg Roman, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula are getting in head-coaching openings. Now, another member of Harbaugh’s staff could also attract interest.

Last week, the Miami Herald reported 49ers’ senior offensive consultant Eric Mangini could be a candidate as the Miami Dolphins’ general manager should then team make a change. Tuesday, the Dolphins announced they are mutually parting ways with general manager Jeff Ireland. Thus, now that Ireland is out, perhaps the Dolphins will show an interest in Mangini.

Last month, I spoke to Mangini, the former two-time NFL head coach, about his role in San Francisco and his future. He said he is open to anything in the future and enjoyed this season working with the 49ers.

I got the sense Mangini is enjoying being back in the game and is open to new things. So, perhaps if the Dolphins do pursue him, moving into the front office could appeal to him.

Losing Mangini, who has been helpful for the 49ers, would be less complicated for the 49ers than the three above-mentioned coaches because he isn’t in charge of a specific area and he has been with the team just a short period of time.
Those following along recently should know NFL free agency begins March 12, which is Tuesday of next week.

The process gets a running start after midnight Friday. That is when rules allow teams to begin negotiating with projected free agents around the league. There can be no signings until free agency begins. Free agents cannot meet with teams for physical examinations or any other purpose. But if an agent wants to shop deals around the league, this window provides that opportunity.

I'm not sure how the three-day window is going to change things from this end. The flow of information -- and misinformation -- could increase as teams and agents seek leverage. We could hear about players and teams reaching agreements in principle, pending passage of a physical examination.

Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, speaking to reporters at the NFL scouting combine last month, predicted relative quiet during the initial stages of the negotiating window. Perhaps that is what he's hoping for.

"I don't know that there's going to be a lot done in that 24 hours of that time period," Ireland said. "That's just a guess, but some of the bulk of what we can get done needs to happen before that time. That three-day window, it's obviously going to be competitive because of that openness in negotiating. Exactly how it's going to change things, I'm not exactly sure."

Ireland used the word "sketchy" to describe the idea that an agent could have a couple of days to shop offers. While the window could contribute to a more frenzied atmosphere when the signing period begins, it also could give teams a chance to reconsider the wisdom of overpaying for veteran players.
We all know what happened the last time an NFC West team watched its preferred coaching candidate interview with the Miami Dolphins.

Jim Harbaugh, then at Stanford, took one look at Stephen Ross' team and hired on with the San Francisco 49ers. That is something St. Louis Rams fans should keep in mind amid reports suggesting the Dolphins will not let the Rams outbid them for Jeff Fisher.

Fisher's history suggests money will not be decisive as long as the Rams are competitive with any offer. They can afford to be competitive, and then some, because their owner, Stan Kroenke, is a billionaire.

Fisher stayed in Tennessee for 16 years and worked under an owner, Bud Adams, not known for extravagance. Kroenke ranks just ahead of Ross and well ahead of Adams on Forbes' lists of billionaires -- not that a few million bucks for a head coach would tax any of them.

"The Dolphins are prepared to make Jeff Fisher the best financial offer of any team vying for the coach this winter," Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported, citing sources.

Sound familiar? It should.

"Ross is willing to make Harbaugh the highest-paid coach in the NFL," ESPN reported last offseason.

Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland and consultant Carl Peterson flew to California for a Harbaugh recruiting trip. Ireland and Peterson remain involved in the Dolphins' current search.

The Rams are reportedly interviewing the Atlanta Falcons' Les Snead and the Baltimore Ravens' Eric DeCosta for their vacant GM job.

Fisher would likely participate in the hiring of a GM in St. Louis. Titans executives such as Lake Dawson or Ruston Webster would be logical candidates.

Seattle took that approach when naming Pete Carroll as coach, then landing John Schneider as GM -- after Carroll signed off. It's an appealing process for a veteran head coach familiar with how daily operations work.

Fisher and former Titans GM Floyd Reese weren't on the best terms as their time together in Tennessee ended. The same was true for Carroll when he was coaching the New England Patriots more than a decade ago.

I have a hard time envisioning Fisher running to Miami over money. He'll take the right situation and get paid well anyway.

Josh McDaniels not interested in 49ers

January, 6, 2011
Cross off former Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels from the list of potential fallback candidates for the San Francisco 49ers.

McDaniels is not interested, according to a source I spoke with Thursday.

The 49ers still hope to hire Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, but they reportedly reached out to McDaniels as a potential fallback while the Miami Dolphins became more active in pursuing Harbaugh, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The 49ers have interviewed Harbaugh and Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland led a contingent that flew from Miami to the San Francisco Bay Area to meet with Harbaugh beginning Thursday morning, ESPN Insider Chris Mortensen reported.

McDaniels, 34, is more likely to land as a coordinator than as a head coach this season. Questions about the 49ers' current leadership -- specifically whether the team has a winning mix with third-year president Jed York, first-year general manager Trent Baalke and executive vice president Paraag Marathe -- made the head coaching job there less appealing to McDaniels following a turbulent run with the Broncos, the source said.

For the 49ers, hiring McDaniels as head coach months after the NFL punished him for illegally videotaping a 49ers walk-through practice would seem stupefying, in my view. Of course, we do not know how serious the 49ers would have been about McDaniels, so I'm reluctant to judge them too harshly for merely reaching out. Might the 49ers have been more interested in McDaniels as a coordinator?

At the very least, it's revealing when a recently fired candidate has no interest in the 49ers. It says McDaniels remains confident he'll land a more appealing job once he repairs his image through a successful run as a coordinator. It also suggests high-profile candidates could elude the 49ers, as the case appeared to be during the team's search for a general manager.

Landing Harbaugh would change perceptions. If Harbaugh accepts a more lucrative offer from the Dolphins, however, the 49ers will look like a team that overplayed its hand and misled fans when York said money would be no object.

The 49ers might then have to settle for another tier of candidates. That would not necessarily prevent them from hiring a capable coach. None of us knows whether Harbaugh would fare better than Marty Mornhinweg, Brian Billick, Jackson or any other potential candidate.

We do know the 49ers wanted Harbaugh, however. Watching him take a job with the Dolphins or anyone else would sting.