It's Official: 49ers Hire Raye

Move leaves fan scratching their heads

Jimmy Raye agreed to terms with the San Francisco 49ers on Friday to become the club's seventh offensive coordinator in seven seasons.

The 62-year-old Raye is an experienced but somewhat unlikely choice for the 49ers, who needed a full month to fill the vacancy created when coach Mike Singletary fired Mike Martz on Dec. 30 in his first major act after getting the permanent job running the club.

Singletary, who went 5-4 as an interim coach to finish the 49ers' sixth consecutive losing season, wanted a veteran coordinator who would build his game plans around a sustained running attack. He apparently found what he wanted in Raye, the eighth man to interview for the job.

Raye has been an offensive coordinator for six previous franchises, including the Oakland Raiders in 2004-05, when he also served as Norv Turner's assistant head coach. He spent the last three seasons as the New York Jets' running backs coach under Eric Mangini.

During more than three decades of NFL coaching experience, Raye has been a coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay, New England, Kansas City, Washington and Oakland. He was even on the 49ers' coaching staff in 1977.

Raye wasn't Singletary's first choice, however. Former St. Louis coach Scott Linehan turned down the position earlier this month, saying he wasn't ready to commit to his next coaching stop -- only to take the same job with the winless Detroit Lions a few days later.

San Francisco's offense finished last overall in the NFL in 2005 and 2007 under coach Mike Nolan, but Martz raised it to a level of respectability in 2008. The 49ers scored 339 points after managing just 219 in 2007, also racking up nearly 74 more offensive yards per game.

But the franchise that redefined offensive football in the 1980s under Bill Walsh has employed a new coordinator in every season since 2003, one year after the 49ers' last trip to the playoffs. Greg Knapp, Ted Tollner, Mike McCarthy, Turner, Jim Hostler and Martz all have taken a turn in charge of San Francisco's offense, none with much success.

In addition to building an offense around Frank Gore, Raye will be instrumental in choosing the 49ers' quarterback. Shaun Hill isn't guaranteed to be the starter despite his solid play in the second half of the season, while former No. 1 overall draft pick Alex Smith won't return unless he reaches an agreement to drastically reduce his salary.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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