In an interview with KJR-AM recently, Mike Holmgren admitted what most people suspected but what he had not actually said yet: His first choice next year would be to return as a coach AND general manager of an NFL team.
Of course, Holmgren realizes that opportunity might not present itself, in which case he would simply weigh options for returning to coaching or for stepping into some team’s front office—or for doing something outside football.
Under normal circumstances, Holmgren would be Option 1, 2 and 3 for any team looking for a coach. But he actually might face some stiff competition next offseason if Mike Shanahan and Bill Cowher decide to return as well.
The one place where Holmgren would certainly be Option 1 is San Francisco, near where he just built a new home. Fans in the Bay Area were clamoring for him this offseason, before the 49ers gave the job to interim coach Mike Singletary.
But if Singletary fails miserably in his first full season in San Francisco, the York family might listen to the calls for Holmgren and bring the coaching legend home, back to where he started his NFL career. Holmgren could replace his former protégé, Scot McCloughan, as GM and Singletary as coach.
However, if the 49ers make progress under Singletary or if the Yorks simply don’t want to eat the rest of the four-year deal they gave Singletary this year and pay big money to a new coach, Holmgren will have to look elsewhere. And that’s where he’ll be up against Shanahan and Cowher—and possibly even one of his former star pupils, Jon Gruden.
The teams most likely to be looking for new coaches—and thus at the Fab Four—next offseason are Washington and Buffalo, along with perhaps Houston, Cincinnati, Dallas and Minnesota. Any of those teams not making the playoffs in 2009 are expected to fire their coaches.