Coaching star search

As Steve Mariucci mentioned during his farewell festivities as 49ers coach, "This is a very attractive job. This is a very good team right now." So the Niners won't have any problem finding qualified candidates stumbling over themselves for a shot at the position made vacant when Mariucci was fired. Or will they? Needless to say, the Niners need to play this one right as they attempt to find a coach who's a better fit than the popular Mariucci, who - let's face it - was a pretty darn good fit.

That move will be orchestrated by general manager Terry Donahue, who still was having conversations with some of Mariucci's assistants on Friday, evaluating who wants to say, who the team is considering retaining and also determining who - if any - are possible candidates for the head coaching position.

If the Niners are thinking about filling the position from within, the team could consider defensive coordinator Jim Mora, quarterbacks coach Ted Tollner or wide receivers coach George Stewart. Those three each have some qualifications that would make them attractive to this team and their familiarity with it, but they likely would only be given short-term contracts on a trial basis to see how well they work out before management commits the future of the team to them. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp appears to be an unlikely candidate, though he could be retained in his current position as owner John York said, "everybody is pretty happy with Greg's progress."

"We don't have a timetable, but we are going to move as quickly as possible to get a good viable list of candidates together and try to make sure we don't lose any continuity with our team so we can get on the field next year and make a run for the playoffs and the Super Bowl," York said.

York said Donahue will receive some assistance in the hunt from consultant Bill Walsh and director of football operations John McVay. Donahue said he will assemble and then screen a list of candidates to get it down to a finalist group before presenting that list to York.

"Then, ultimately, John will select who he wants as his new head coach," Donahue said. "I think clearly there are some people on this staff and also nationally, whether it be pro football or college football, that would be great head coaches now that Steve is not our coach. We just have to find the right person and put him in place."

Besides some current 49ers assistants, other top names currently being connected with the position are former Vikings coach (and Niners assistant) Dennis Green, Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham, USC coach (and former Niners defensive coordinator) Pete Carroll, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Steelers defensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, among others.


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