SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was one of many members of the organization in Ray McDonald's corner last season, when the embattled defensive end was allowed to play despite an arrest for alleged domestic violence a week before the season opener.
It's no surprise, then, McDonald will rejoin Fangio with the Chicago Bears to aid the team's transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive front.
Chicago announced McDonald's signing to a one-year deal Tuesday after he was released by San Francisco in December for a second arrest in four months under the suspicion of committing sexual assault. McDonald has not been charged for either arrest, and recently sued his latest accuser for defamation after his second arrest led to the end of his eight-year run with the 49ers.
McDonald, 30, became a full-time starter in 2011 when Fangio came to San Francisco along with new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Fangio's defenses were ranked in the top five in each of his four seasons as coordinator, which led to his candidacy for the team's head coaching vacancy this offseason.
But Fangio was passed over for defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, who was always a known favorite of CEO Jed York. Ultimately, Fangio elected not to stay with the 49ers, who promoted former tight ends coach Eric Mangini to defensive coordinator. Fangio would have reportedly stayed in his role if the 49ers had hired Adam Gase or Mike Shanahan as head coach. Gase, who was a finalist for San Francisco's job, became Chicago's offensive coordinator after spending the last three seasons in the same role with Denver.
Fangio, along with former 49ers defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, will try to turn around a Bears defense that finished 31st in scoring and 30th in yardage in 2014. They were hired under new head coach John Fox, who has a defensive background.
The Bears Tuesday also signed defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, 27, to a one-year deal.
Before his release, McDonald was playing at a high level in 2014, and was an important player along the 49ers' defensive front during the team's run of championship contention from 2011 to 2014.
With Justin Smith, 35, continuing to mull retirement, the 49ers could have to replace both starting defensive ends in 2015.