Fangio Deserves Opportunity as 49ers Head Coach

Niners' defensive coordinator has backing of players, plus a terrific track record in San Francisco

With the 49ers head coaching position up for grabs, the usual suspects’ names are surfacing.

Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren are two former Super Bowl winners who’ve been mentioned as possible candidates since Sunday night. Others on the lists: former Raiders head coach Hue Jackson (now the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati), Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Stanford head coach David Shaw.

As the days go on, more coaches are sure to be thrown into the speculation roulette.

And, on the 49ers’ staff, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio are certainly two who deserve a long look.

On Monday, in fact, several 49ers defensive players campaigned in a strong way for Fangio. And why not?

Fangio in 2014 was a miracle worker.

He lost two of the best inside linebackers in the NFL in NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis; he didn’t have outside linebacker Aldon Smith for more than half the season; he lost his two best nose tackles in Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey; and the secondary was hit hard, with No. 1 cornerback Tramaine Brock missing a majority of the season and No. 1 draft pick Jimmie Ward healthy for only eight games.

The pass rush, so vital to past 49ers success, was often absent.

Yet the 49ers defense was a strength for most of the season while the offense sputtered.

The 49ers had the No. 5 overall defense in the league, giving up 321.4 yards per game. The Niners were 10th in the league in points allowed.

If the 49ers want continuity and quality, Fangio would be tough to beat. If he were a candidate from another team, the 49ers would likely covet him. Sometimes, however, successful in-house people can tend to get overlooked.

Niners players say that shouldn’t be the case. Linebacker Dan Skuta said he’ll campaign for Fangio.

“Trent made it clear he wanted the players’ input,” Skuta said, of GM Trent Baalke’s address to the team Monday. “So that’s going to be something I say.”

Bowman said he wants Fangio to be back next year as head coach or remain defensive coordinator.

“We’ve built so much chemistry with him,” Bowman told Paul Gutierrez of “He’s a great human being and I definitely would listen to him on a head-coaching level. What you see is what you get with Vic.”

The question is, after deciding not to stick with Harbaugh, will the 49ers brass feel compelled to reach outside the organization for a big-name replacement?

If that’s the case, the 49ers could risk losing some quality assistants, such as Fangio and Tomsula.

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