After being turned down by Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel, the 49ers have moved onto other defensive coordinator candidates, including one internal option. According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter link), San Francisco is considering its own linebackers coach, Jason Tarver, along with Ravens linebackers coach Don Martindale, for the DC position.
Both Tarver and Martindale have previous experience in defensive coordinator roles, with Tarver having served as the DC across the bay for the Raiders from 2012 to 2014. Martindale, meanwhile, worked as the Broncos’ defensive coordinator in 2010.
Neither Tarver nor Martindale appear to have any previous overlap with Chip Kelly, so the new 49ers head coach isn’t simply targeting coaches with whom he has worked before. With the two linebackers coach entering the mix for the Niners’ DC job, it looks increasingly unlikely that Eric Mangini will be retained.
A report a few days ago suggested that there was a “strong possibility” that Mangini, San Francisco’s incumbent defensive coordinator, would remain with the team. There may still a chance of that happening, particularly if Mangini is open to a demotion, but I think if he were going to keep his DC job, the club would’ve made that decision by now.
The defensive coordinator position under Kelly is viewed as a unique challenge, since his fast-paced offense means the defense will typically spend plenty of time on the field. From 2013 to 2015, Kelly’s Eagles ranked dead last in the NFL in time of possession each season. However, the Niners head coach downplayed those concerns this week, as Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.
“We get into the time of possession question and we’ve been in games where it was identical play snaps for us and our opponent,” Kelly said. “It was identical yardage for us and our opponent. It was identical first downs for us and our opponent. We won the game by seven, but they had the ball for 10 more minutes than we did.
“So all I learned is that they stand around better than we stand around. It’s still plays run. I’ve also never met a defense player that says, ‘Coach, I want you to possess the ball for the entire game so I don’t have to play.”
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