Everest in as new special teams coordinator

In his search for a new special teams coordinator for the 49ers, Mike Nolan is one and done. And now, he has two to go.

Nolan hired veteran NFL assistant Al Everest on Sunday to replace Larry Mac Duff as the guiding force of San Francisco's special teams. That leaves Nolan with two vacancies still to fill on his 2007 coaching staff, those that opened when Nolan fired defensive coordinator Billy Davis and defensive line coach Gary Emanuel two days after the 2006 season ended.

Everest was the first candidate formerly interviewed by Nolan to replace Mac Duff, who left the team a week ago to become assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator at the University of Texas.

Everest, 56, looks like a good fit for his new role with the 49ers. He has more than 34 years of coaching experience, including 10 seasons as a NFL special teams coach, most recently with the New Orleans Saints from 2000-2005. Everest, who was not retained in New Orleans last year when Sean Payton took over as head coach, was out of football last season. Everest also was special teams coach in Arizona from 1996-1999 before joining the Saints.

"Al brings a tremendous amount of experience to our coaching staff," Nolan said early Sunday while announcing the hire. "His special teams units were extremely successful while he was with New Orleans. The Saints were among the leaders in just about every category during that time. Al is very excited about joining the 49ers, and I am equally excited about having him on board."

Everest's special teams established a standard for excellence during his time in New Orleans. In 2004, the Saints had five players win NFC Special Teams Player for the Week honors. That total includes a streak of four weeks in a row to end the season, which tied the NFL record for the most consecutive winners since the inception of the award in 1993.

In 2002, the Saints had three touchdown returns, blocked five kicks and forced an interception for a touchdown. Everest was named 2002 NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year in a vote by his peers. In 2001, the Saints led the NFC in average drive start, featured the conference's most accurate kicker and ranked among the leaders in kickoff return average.

Everest also has been around in football, and we're talking all around. His diverse background includes having worked on both sides of the ball and around the globe.

He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Southern Methodist University, in 1972. He then served as a graduate assistant coach at North Texas in 1973. From there, he was the secondary coach in 1974 and 1975 at NCAA Division II's Cameron, where he also was the school's head baseball coach. He then became the head coach and athletic director at the American School Foundation in Mexico City from 1976-1980 before switching sports to become baseball coach at U.S. International University from 1981-1987.

Everest then joined the professional football ranks, coaching in Italy from 1988-91. He was defensive coordinator for the Legnano Frogs from 1988-90 and spent 1991 as head coach of the Pesaro Angels. Legnano won the Italian championship in 1988 and 1989, and was the national runner-up in 1990.

Everest also spent part of 1991 as a scout for the Pro Spring Football League, before serving as secondary coach with the Arkansas Miners in 1992.

In 1992, he also was offensive coordinator of the San Antonio Force in the Arena Football League. He returned to Italy in 1993 as Legnano's defensive coordinator before returning to the United States to become an assistant coach at The Colony High School in Lewisville, Texas, where he coached in 1993 and 1994.

In 1995, Everest was special teams coordinator for the CFL Birmingham Barracudas, facilitating his ascent to that position at the NFL level.

Everest also has personal ties to the 49ers and the San Francisco Bay Area. His father, Andy Everest, was an assistant coach at Stanford from 1958-62, then later was assistant freshman coach under Bill Walsh when Walsh was Stanford's head coach in the years before Walsh took over as coach of the 49ers in 1979.

Andy Everest also was responsible for setting up the 49ers' training camp under Nolan's father, Dick Nolan, when he was San Francisco's head coach from 1968-1975.

The 49ers had held their training camp at St. Mary's College in Moraga before Dick Nolan's arrival, but moved their summer camp to the University of Santa Barbara in 1968 and remained there during the elder Nolan's tenure with the team before moving back north to San Jose State in 1976. Andy Everest had served as offensive coordinator and head coach at UC Santa Barbara.

Despite his success in New Orleans, Al Everest has some big shoes to fill in San Francisco.

Mac Duff was one of the few coaching holdovers from the failed Dennis Erickson/Terry Donahue regime, and his units were the most consistent on the team and were a steady force on a 49ers squad that had little stability during the organization-wide transition of the past four years.

Mac Duff was responsible for developing several of the top young performers on San Francisco's special teams today, a list that includes Keith Lewis, Maurice Hicks, Michael Robinson, Marcus Hudson and Andy Lee.

Special teams again was an area the 49ers could count on for consistently quality performance in 2006. San Francisco continued to see young talent emerge on those units, and punter Lee, kicker Joe Nedney and long-snapper Brian Jennings all handled their specialty roles with particular aplomb this past season.

San Francisco ranked fourth in the NFL in kickoff return average, fifth in gross punt average and eighth in kickoff return average allowed. Except for some lapses covering punts, the coverage units were consistently solid as they combined with Lee's punting to help the 49ers in the battle for field position. Statistically, the 49ers also made big improvement in their return game over 2005.

Nolan now turns his attention to filling the two vacancies on his defensive staff.

Nolan interviewed Donnie Henderson - who coached with Nolan previously in Baltimore - on Saturday for the defensive coordinator position, but he's expected to take some time before deciding on a replacement for Davis, though no other interviews have been formally scheduled for that position.

Henderson - Baltimore's defensive backs coach in 2002-2003 while Nolan was the Ravens' defensive coordinator - was fired Jan. 2 after one season as defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions.

Henderson - who has eight seasons of experience as a NFL assistant - became a defensive coordinator for the first time at any level in 2004 with the New York Jets. He held that position for two seasons before he was not retained after Eric Mangini took over as Jets head coach in 2006.

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