ESPN reported Thursday Tony Sparano will be the 49ers new tight ends coach, a day after Oakland's former defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was reportedly made the team's linebackers coach.
Sparano was the Raiders' interim head coach in 2014 after firing Dennis Allen for going win-less in four games. Sparano took his team to a 3-9 records after being elevated from offensive line coach, including a late-season win over the 49ers. Previously, Sparano was the Jets offensive coordinator after four seasons of being the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
In Miami, Sparano got off to a promising start, going 11-5 in his first year in 2008. But the season culminated in a disappointing 27-9 home loss in to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Sparano's Dolphins backed up that season with consecutive 7-9 records before getting fired after Week 14 in 2011.
Sparano coached tight ends for four seasons starting in 2001 for Washington, Jacksonville in Dallas. He became the Cowboys tight end coach in 2003 under then-head coach Bill Parcells and later became the offensive line coach and running game coordinator in 2005 and 2006.
49ers general manager Trent Baalke also has ties to Parcells after working under him during his time as a scout for the New York Jets in the late-90s. Parcells was reportedly Baalke's first choice as San Francisco's head coach in 2011 before hiring Jim Harbaugh.
The tight end position was a problem area for the 49ers in 2014. In the three seasons previous under Harbaugh and departed offensive coordinator Greg Roman, tight ends played an integral role on the team's physical offense. Vernon Davis, who caught 13 touchdown passes in 2013, was a versatile piece thanks to his ability to block in the running game while being the team's top down-field threat.
Davis' production took a drastic hit this season, emblematic of the offense's overall struggles. His 245 receiving yards was the lowest mark of his nine-year career, while his two touchdown grabs - both coming in Week 1 - tied his career low.
It's uncertain if Davis will be back in 2015. His $7.018 million cap number might be too much to swallow considering last season's production. Davis' drop in play could be attributed to health. He sustained ankle and back injuries early in the season and never appeared fully recovered.
Davis held out of the entire offseason program costing him upwards of $270,000 in fines and missed workout bonuses while hoping to land a new contract extension.
But instead of continuing his holdout into training camp, Davis reported on time and played without a new deal. The upcoming season is the last on Davis' contract.
Sparano will also be tasked with developing former second-round pick Vance McDonald, who has just 10 catches to his name after two NFL seasons.
The 49ers are the only team in the NFL absent of both offensive and defensive coordinators. Roman took the same position with the Buffalo Bills while Vic Fangio has moved on to become the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, bringing secondary coach Ed Donatell with him.
Sparano replaces Eric Mangini as tight end coach, who remains linked to the 49ers defensive coordinator job after being on Harbaugh's offensive staff during the last two seasons. He was a senior offensive assistant in 2013.