The 49ers have offered Texans assistant Mike Vrabel their defensive coordinator job, sources tell Dianna Marie Russini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to Russini, the team is currently waiting on Vrabel’s answer. It should come soon, as new head coach Chip Kelly said Wednesday that he’d like to have his staff in place within the next week (Twitter link via the team).
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Vrabel, who spent most of his NFL playing career with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls with New England, began his coaching career in 2011 following his retirement as a player. After spending three seasons as a positions coach at Ohio State, Vrabel joined the Texans in 2014. He has been the linebackers coach in Houston for the last two years.
The Niners interviewed Vrabel for their defensive coordinator opening on Tuesday, a day before Kelly was introduced to the media. A Tuesday report indicated that incumbent defensive coordinator Eric Mangini would also interview for the job, despite a Monday report suggesting that there was a “strong possibility” he’d be retained.
If Vrabel ends up accepting the 49ers’ reported offer and becoming the club’s new defensive coordinator, he’ll have a challenging task ahead. In Philadelphia, Kelly’s Eagles ranked at the bottom of the NFL in terms of time of possession in each of the last three seasons due to their fast-paced offense, which forced the defense to spend plenty of time on the field. Mangini’s 49ers unit, meanwhile, ranked 29th in the NFL in yards allowed per game (387.4) in 2015, finishing outside the top 25 against both the run and the pass.
As for Mangini, if he ends up on the outside looking in when San Francisco makes its defensive coordinator hire, he’ll hardly be the first assistant coach Kelly has replaced. We learned on Tuesday that offensive coordinator Geep Chryst and eight other assistants won’t be returning to the team for the 2016 season.
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