It’s been reported that former Raiders head coach and current University of Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is a top candidate to become the offensive coordinator of the 49ers.
But also in the mix could be Rob Chudzinski, a special assistant to Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. The NFL Network reported Monday that the 49ers – as well as the Rams and Bears – have asked for the Colts' permission to interview Chudzinski.
Chudzinski is the former head coach of the Cleveland Browns and a longtime assistant in the NFL who’s been with the Browns, Chargers, Panthers and Colts.
As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee noted, one point in Chudzinski’s favor is that he was offensive coordinator in Carolina when Cam Newton had his best season in 2012, and the Niners are looking to get the most out of Colin Kaepernick, a similar talent to Newton in that he’s a young, dual-threat quarterback with a strong arm.
In fact, Newton has spoken highly of Chudzinski. While Newton was at first overwhelmed by the complexities of an NFL offense when he first came from Auburn – which was a relatively simple offense in comparison – he said it was Chudzinski’s one-on-one approach with him that helped him adapt and thrive.
Newton told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2013 that Chudzinski’s offensive philosophy incorporates aspects of the many systems he’s coached in, particularly longtime NFL coordinator and head coach Norv Turner’s. But Newton said Chudzinski was adaptable to his personnel, too.
“That’s something that as a player you like,” Newton said. “He asks you questions and he learns from you as well. We had to be on the same page, and we had multiple discussions of what I’m comfortable with, what I want to do, what I want him to try to do more of and he always had an open ear and was very helpful in my progression.”
Newton said Chudzinski even incorporated some of the plays Newton ran successfully at Auburn into the Panthers offensive scheme, to best take advantage of Newton’s skills. While Chudzinski eventually was fired in Carolina -- and also fired after his stint as head coach in Cleveland -- he made an impression with Newton.
Last year, Newton said more good things about Chudzinski in an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio, saying he was appreciative that Chudzinski believed in him. He said in 2011 that Chudzinski gave him a piece of paper outlining “the blueprint of success for Cam Newton.”
Newton says he still carries that piece of paper with him.
“He gave me the things that I had to do to, one, gain the trust of my teammates, gain the trust of the people in the organization as well as the fans, but most of all gain the trust of myself,” said Newton. “I appreciate him for that.”