That being the case, it is very likely the Lions could have their third new defensive coordinator in three years and it will very likely be Jim Mora, Jr. Mora, 41, (who is not technically a 'junior' since he has a different middle name from his father) would be Mariucci's choice if he isn't named head coach of the 49ers, something that seems to be a remote possibility.
Still, the move would require the permission of the 49'ers, but teams rarely stand in the way of coaches who request to move on. Former Detroit offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon was allowed to move to the staff of Bill Parcells upon his request for his release. Mora, Jr. has asked the 49'ers for his release in the event he is not named head coach.
Mora would replace Kurt Schottenheimer, who in 2001 replaced Vince Tobin, former coach Marty Mornhinweg's initial hire as defensive coordinator. The Lions defense ranked dead last in the NFC giving up over 28 points per game and nearly 400 yards in total offense per contest.
Mora also interviewed for the vacant defensive coordinator's job in Carolina. Current Lions defensive coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer also is interested in the position and recently met with Mariucci to clear up his status. The only public comment Mariucci had on the situation was that he asked Schottenheimer to "hang in here with me," until the situation in San Francisco straightens itself out. Mora is the coach's perferred choice but if he isn't available Schottenheimer would continue in the position.
LION NOTES: Steve Mariucci's version of the west coast offense will look a lot different from Marty Mornhinweg's version because of Mariucci' innovated use of several different siutational personnel "packages". Mariucci has personnel packages for nearly every offensive situation and his effective use of these are among the many reasons the 49'ers offense was consistently able to generate opportunites to move the football and score. San Francisco ranked 4th in the NFC averaging nearly 23 points per game. Conversely, Detroit ranked 13th in the conference scoring just over 19 points per game.
The Lions announced they had retained special teams coordinator Chuck Priefer and assistant Don Clemons as defensive assistants. Linebackers coach John Marshall and offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis are also expected to be retained in some role on offense. Former 49'ers running backs coach Tom Rathman would be a strong candidate to replace the recently hired Bobby Williams if he becomes available.
The contracts of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, Rathman, tight ends coach Tom Batta, receivers coach George Stewart and defensive line coach Dwaine Board expire at the end of this month and all would be candidates to join Mariucci in Detroit. Former 49'ers linebackers coach Richard Smith has already joined the Lions staff as one of Mariucci's first hires.
University of Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel is said to be the front runner for the 49'ers coaching position, but sources tell LionsFans.com that Neuehisel has a prohibitive buy out in his contract that might make the 49'ers think twice. New York Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell had a second interview with the 49'ers and is said to be the favorite of owner John York.