McCarthy leading candidate for Lions OC

The leader as they make the clubhouse turn for the home stretch appears to be Saints offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy in the same role with Detroit.

ALLEN PARK - The leader as they make the clubhouse turn for the home stretch appears to be Saints offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy in the same role with Detroit.

With Scott Linehan accepting a three-year deal to run Nick Saban's offense in Miami, McCarthy appears to be the odds-on favorite over former 49ers coordinator Ted Tollner.

The Lions need to replace the retired Sherman Lewis who occupied the position under Mariucci. The team began giving some play calling responsibility to quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, a move that didn't sit well with Lewis.

McCarthy, 41, would be expected to help tailor the Lions playbook to accomodate the strengths of third-year quarterback Joey Harrington. Harrington appears to favor a more vertical passing attack rather than the dink and dunk approach the Lions used most of the season.

Lions head coach Steve Mariucci wants the offensive coordinator to have significant input into reworking the team's version of the West Coast offense and is delaying much of the work on it until a coordinator is in place.

If he is in fact their guy, the Lions may need to move quickly as the Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings are interested in talking to McCarthy.

Lions running backs coach Tom Rathman is among new 49ers head coach Mike Nolan's candidates for the San Francisco offensive coordinator job. Saints head coach Jim Haslett has been under a mandate from owner Tom Benson to re-work his coaching staff after a disappointing season in New Orleans. He has given permission for McCarthy to interview with other interested teams and has fired three assistants this offseason.

Detroit is still considering former 49ers offensive coordinator Ted Tollner, who was hired by Mariucci before he was let go in San Francisco. Tollner's offense was criticized for being too conservative, but he was working with an inexperienced quarterback and not much talent in his receiving corps. Mariucci is expected to talk with Tollner again this week.

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