San Francisco 49ers: Will Greg Roman Finally Earn a Head Coaching Job?

Tom SmeatonContributor IIIDecember 31, 2013

Jan 22, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio (left) and offensive coordinator Greg Roman (right) watch warm ups before the 2011 NFC Championship game against the New York Giants at Candlestick Park.  Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As the aftershocks from the headlines of "Black Monday" continue to roll out, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman could soon find himself on his way out of town in a different light.

Teams that didn't make the playoffs are making headlines by firing their head coaches, and the 49ers assistants could be hot targets, given the team's success. 

While San Francisco tries to defend its staff from other teams, Roman in particular could find himself in the mix for several jobs. 

The Star Tribune cited Roman as a candidate for the vacant Minnesota Vikings job, cleared by Monday's firing of Leslie Frazier. The Oakland Raiders have not dismissed head coach Dennis Allen, but Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated matched Roman as an ideal candidate for that potential opening as well. 

Roman's name had even surfaced as a candidate in Detroit before Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was officially let go, according to Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports:

The biggest issue for Roman in Detroit could be the attractiveness of the job, which features a roster with plenty of talent and the No. 10 overall draft pick. As Lions senior writer Tim Twentyman noted, the team should have no trouble in lining up potential candidates:

Ironically, Roman's other main obstacle will be found in the success of his current team.

According to Silver's report, deep playoff runs in back-to-back seasons have hurt Roman in his search for a leading job. Teams simply find it hard to wait for a candidate to become available after his team is eliminated, which could again set Roman back in 2014. 

By NFL rules, an assistant coach on a playoff team cannot interview until after the wild-card round if his team plays during that weekend, as noted by Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Since the 49ers don't have a bye as the No. 5 seed, this designation applies to Roman this season. 

NFL teams could be reluctant to wait on a preoccupied candidate like Roman, but college jobs could also come knocking for the veteran offensive coordinator. 

As Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports points out, Roman could find himself in the mix for the Penn State job if current coach Bill O'Brien departs for the NFL. Roman has previously interviewed with PSU and has experience on the college level after serving as Jim Harbaugh's offensive coordinator at Stanford. 

Will Penn State be searching to replace head coach Bill O'Brien?
Will Penn State be searching to replace head coach Bill O'Brien?Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Fans in San Francisco have been fairly critical of Roman throughout the season, even dating back to the final drive of last year's Super Bowl. However, the 49ers' recent success, paired with a willingness to utilize different schemes, has propelled Roman onto the coaching carousel. 

According to Feldman, Roman's reputation has continued to grow in coaching circles, even though he has no experience as a head coach. While a lead job has eluded him in the past, it only takes one patient team or university to finally give Roman the promotion he seeks. 

Although Roman has had his fair share of struggles in play-calling and clock management, it's difficult to assess just how much of that blame should fall on him. Teams will see Roman's work with former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and the complete reversal to last year's read-option schemes with current starter Colin Kaepernick. 

Roman isn't perfect, and he has been rightfully criticized for coaching the league's 30th-ranked passing attack. On the other end of the spectrum, however, his stability in the position has undoubtedly helped in the 49ers' rapid turnaround from bottom feeders to NFC champions. 

It's no secret that Roman has been seeking a top job since coming to San Francisco, as any assistant would be expected to do. As the coaching carousel continues to turn, the stars could finally align for Roman to assume his coveted role. 

Several teams will decline to wait on Roman, but his momentum is building too much to be held off for long. Whether it is this year or in the near future, Roman will most likely find himself poached from San Francisco's staff in due time. 

Only then will we truly discover how much credit or blame he really deserved all along. 


Tom Smeaton covers the San Francisco 49ers as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Tom on Twitter at @smeaton49