In the NFL there’s a downside to a team getting good.
As soon as the season’s over and the league’s coaching carousel starts to spin, assistant coaches start flying off to other locales.
For the 49ers, the process already has begun.
When Jim Harbaugh was hired last season as head coach, he put together a terrific staff of assistants, starting with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Also added, without much hoopla, was Brad Seely as special teams coordinator and assistant head coach.
Seely, a two-time NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year, has been a miracle worker in several of his stops around the league in a 23-year NFL coaching tenure, and his work with the 49ers this past season was superb.
Now, Fox Sports has reported Seely is a candidate for the head coaching position with the Indianapolis Colts, and is expected to interview with the team today, reports Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Branch, other candidates for the Colts job are Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and former Vikings coach Brad Childress.
The loss of Seely would be a blow to a 49ers team that relied greatly on its special teams this season in forging a 13-3 record, an NFC West title and a trip to the NFC Championship Game.
This season both punter Andy Lee and place-kicker David Akers had Pro Bowl years, as did long snapper Brian Jennings. San Francisco led the NFL in starting field position (33.5 yard line) and opponent’s starting field position (24.3), notes Branch.
Seely made huge upgrades to the Cleveland Browns’ special teams before coming to San Francisco, and was part of the New England coaching staff from 1999-2008 when the Patriots were winning Super Bowls.
Special teams played a role from the outset this season for the 49ers, with Ted Ginn Jr. returning both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the season-opening victory over Seattle.
Seely referred to special teams as the “dirty work” that can become a dominant force. Speaking of his philosophy about special teams play, and getting buy-in from players, Seely told reporters in October that, "You have to subvert your singular wants for the good of the team. That’s what special teams are.”
Said special teams star Blake Costanzo this year to the Bay Area News Group’s Cam Inman: “We fight to the ball every time to make a play. We have a lot of guys who take it seriously. Guys are willing to give every inch of their soul for special teams.”
Harbaugh said earlier this week that he’d like to retain his coaches, saying he’d like to “keep the band together.” But that may be difficult.
Roman, for instance, was interviewed during the season about becoming the new head coach at Penn State after Joe Paterno was fired.
Harbaugh this season often lauded Seely’s special teams and the job Seely was doing.
In November, Harbaugh told the Chronicle: “He just does a great job and I’ve almost got the feeling that, ‘OK, we’ve got him now. We’ve got coach Seely now and at some point some smart organization is going to hire him away from us.' ”
That time may be sooner than later.