As we’ve noted earlier, the San Francisco 49ers ownership, led by Jed York, has taken a keen interest in Stanford Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh, but at the moment it’s looking like it’ll be difficult to sway him from taking the Michigan Wolverines job. Perhaps Harbaugh was trying to be crafty and let that news leak to leverage his contract with the Yorks, but as of today it doesn’t look good.
So what’s the current backup plan for the Niners? Jon Gruden doesn’t seem to be a candidate the 49ers are interested in. Bill Cowher has barely been mentioned. The only name that seems to have been popping up as of late is Marty Mornhinweg, the former Detroit Lions head coach, 49ers offensive coordinator, and current Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator. John Clayton mentioned him as a distinct possibility.
Mornhinweg was awful in Detroit. He went 5-27 with the Lions in two seasons, and is probably best remembered for deciding to kick the ball rather than receive it in an overtime game against the Chicago Bears (Chicago marched down the field and won the game; Detroit never saw the ball). However, in the past four years as Eagles offensive coordinator, he’s helped cultivate one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFC, transitioning between Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick rather seamlessly. Right now his Eagles offense is averaging nearly 400 yards and 28 points a game, and offense has been the trouble spot in San Francisco for years.
David discussed the comparisons between Mornhinweg and (don’t laugh) Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots over at Niners Nation. It’s well-worth the read. Who knows if Mornhinweg is well-worth being the head coach, but it would be quite the intriguing hire.