7 Candidates Who Could Replace Greg Roman as 49ers Offensive Coordinator
There may not be a position coach in football in a more precarious position than 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
Fans and media pundits alike have been calling for Roman's job for much of the season—most recently Lowell Cohn of The Press Democrat last week. Even after Sunday's 19-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks, Roman will continue to face the heat for any 49ers offensive struggles going forward.
On the other side of the coin, Roman is also viewed by many as a top candidate for a head coaching job. According to Josh Katzowitz of CBS Sports, Roman's overall body of work in San Francisco could still land him a spot on the short list for either NFL or college jobs next season.
Should Roman be fired, or promoted, the 49ers would not lose their offensive identity without him in 2014. Head coach Jim Harbaugh should be expected to bring in an assistant with a similar ideology and experience, narrowing the potential pool of replacements to a select few.
If that is the case, these seven names could be discussed early and often to assume Roman's responsibilities. Based on their history and experience, any of them could make their way to the San Francisco sideline in 2014.
Note: Prospective candidates are speculative, unless accompanied by a cited report.
No.7: Kyle Shanahan
Mark Maske of the Washington Post has reported that Washington head coach Mike Shanahan is unlikely to survive this disastrous season. Should this ultimately be the case, his son, Kyle, would most likely be shown the door with him.
The current offensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins may be the least likely of these candidates to take over the offensive reins for the 49ers, but there are still a few factors that would make him appealing in San Francisco.
While Kyle Shanahan has taken his fair share of abuse this season, he has worked with a dual-threat quarterback in Robert Griffin III. That could help with game-planning for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
However, Shanahan's inability to adjust after Griffin's knee injury could scare away NFL teams. His father could also look to retain him if offered another job elsewhere for 2014.
No. 6: Mike Bloomgren
As the Andrew Luck Director of Offense (otherwise known as offensive coordinator) at Stanford University, Mike Bloomgren could follow the Jim Harbaugh trend for assistants. Both Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio followed Harbaugh from the same positions at Stanford when Harbaugh left for the 49ers.
Bloomgren did not work on the Stanford staff with Harbaugh, but was hired by Harbaugh disciple David Shaw, the current Cardinal head coach. Shaw has been linked to the Texan's top job by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, and would therefore appear beyond an OC gig at this time.
With Shaw well out of the picture, the Stanford tendency should be broken for Roman's potential replacement. Harbaugh could trust Shaw's judgment and system to make a run at Bloomgren, but the 49ers will likely look for more NFL seasoning.
Outside of the Stanford connection, this would be a very surprising move.
No. 5: Marty Mornhinweg
Marty Mornhinweg has been dealt a weak hand in his first season at Jets offensive coordinator, putting his offense in the control of embattled rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan is firmly on the hot seat in New York, according to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. If the Jets decide to part ways with Ryan, Mornhinweg and the rest of the staff would probably face the same fate.
Mornhinweg has experience in San Francisco, previously serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 1997 to 2000. Coming from a West Coast background with plenty of NFL experience, Mornhinweg could make sense for Harbaugh's staff.
To make this happen, the 49ers would have to count on a regime change in New York and enter what could be a battle for Mornhinweg's services. Those questions prevent Mornhinweg from appearing higher on this list.
No. 4: Gary Kubiak
As previously mentioned, Gary Kubiak was recently fired by the Texans after losing 11 straight games this season. If another head coaching job eludes Kubiak in the coming weeks, the former Houston boss also has plenty of experience as an offensive coordinator.
Kubiak is no stranger to San Francisco, serving as the quarterbacks coach for the 1994 team in what was his first job as an NFL assistant. Those 49ers went on to win the Super Bowl in what was one of quarterback Steve Young's finest seasons.
While that 49ers connection is ancient by today's standards, Kubiak would certainly be available and is an intriguing candidate. If Jim Harbaugh were to look for NFL success, Kubiak has three Super Bowl rings to his credit as an assistant coach.
Harbaugh has made an effort to surround himself with quality assistants in the past, and could do the same with this potential hire.
No. 3: Paul Wulff
While Paul Wulff isn't exactly a hot name among NFL assistants, continuity could be a key factor in Jim Harbaugh's search. As the senior offensive assistant for the 49ers, Wulff is one of the top offensive assistants on the current staff.
Wulff's name was also discussed by Grant Cohn of The Press Democrat in 2012, when Roman was speculated to be leaving for a college head coaching job.
After stints as the head coach of Washington State University and Eastern Washington University, Wulff was brought into the fold for his offensive prowess. If Harbaugh looks internally for his next offensive coordinator, Wulff would likely be on the short list.
This isn't the flashy hire, but it would make sense for maintaining an identity.
No. 2: Hue Jackson
Hue Jackson is currently employed by the Cincinnati Bengals, serving as the running backs coach and special assistant to head coach Marvin Lewis. Two years removed from a stint as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Jackson should be chomping at the bit for a more high-profile job.
Jackson has previously served as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, and was even interviewed for the 49ers head coaching job in 2011. However, Jackson also holds another connection to this 49ers team.
According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Jackson was enamored by Colin Kaepernick during his lone draft in charge of the Raiders. The 49ers, however, were able to swoop in and take the Nevada quarterback first, and Jackson has been haunted ever since.
Jackson would certainly jump at the chance to both be promoted and work with Kaepernick. This fit makes sense, but only if Cincinnati would be willing to allow the 49ers to interview him.
No. 1: Geep Chryst
The current quarterbacks coach for San Francisco, Geep Chryst is probably best known by 49ers fans as the architect of "The Vernon Post."
The thrilling game-winning touchdown catch by tight end Vernon Davis in the 2012 NFC divisional playoff game against the Saints was Chryst's brainchild. With prior input on play design, especially those used in such critical moments, Chryst would appear to be a natural fit to replace Roman.
His starting quarterback in San Diego? None other than Jim Harbaugh.
With 18 years as an NFL assistant and a proven relationship with Harbaugh, Chryst should be the clear front-runner to be the 49ers' next offensive coordinator. Chryst's quick development of former quarterback Alex Smith should also work in his favor, as would his continuity with Colin Kaepernick.
As for Roman, a big win over Seattle won't cast a smokescreen over his entire body of work in 2013. With a struggling passing game, reliance on field goals and lack of creativity, anything short of a complete playoff turnaround could end his tenure as 49ers offensive coordinator.
However, should the 49ers explode down the stretch en route to a title, Roman could seemingly find himself as a head coach in 2014. A college or professional team could reach out to Roman to develop young quarterbacks as he did in San Francisco.
Either way, it's safe to say a parting of ways would do wonders for both parties next season.
Tom Smeaton covers the San Francisco 49ers as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. For thoughts on the 49ers and the NFL, follow @smeaton49 on Twitter.
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