Friday afternoon, former Washington State head coach Paul Wulff told CougFan.com that he has joined Jim Harbaugh's coaching staff. Eric Branch indicated Wulff would be replacing former offensive assistant Bobby Engram who left the team after this past season for a job as Steelers wide receiver coach.
Wulff was head coach at Washington State from 2008-2011, following eight seasons as head coach at Eastern Washington University. Wulff struggled at WSU, finishing with a career record of 9-40 and was replaced this offseason by Mike Leach.
I had a chance to chat with our Washington State blogger, Brian Floyd, about Wulff. After the jump, he has a rundown for us about Wulff, who has led an interesting life in getting to this point. He also has some thoughts on where Wulff can contribute. Since getting this from Brian, we learned that Wulff is filling the Engram role. While that is a general offensive assistant role, I would imagine he would get a chance to focus on areas of expertise.
I'm not sure what kind of role Paul Wulff will have with the 49ers, but it sounds like it may be sort of like an NFL GA, working with the offense in some form. Normally, it wouldn't be too interesting, but Wulff's journey makes the hire a bit noteworthy.
I probably can't explain Wulff's life well enough to do it justice. Read this link to get a feel for what he's been through. That was why, despite his shortcomings as a head coach, many of us wanted to see him succeed at Washington State. It would've been one of those feel-good stories.
It didn't turn out that way, of course.Wulff took on a significant rebuilding job, but patience wore thin this past year, eventually leading to his firing after the Mike Leach opportunity presented itself. He does, however, have some strengths as a coach, especially on the offensive line.
At Washington State, Wulff was more manager than hands-on coach. His assistants handled the playcalling and ran practices with their position groups while Wulff oversaw everything. With that in mind, it's tough to get a handle on where his skills will be utilized.
I'd guess Wulff will take this as a learning opportunity, studying under Harbaugh and his staff. He just spent the last however many years building -- recruiting and trying to change the culture at Washington State and building the program at Eastern Washington. He's spent so much time rebuilding, that this job is probably a welcome change. There's no recruiting to deal with, no program to oversee and less responsibility.
It seems likely Wulff will work with the offensive line -- he was a former lineman and knows how to coach the position -- while serving in kind of a do-it-all role. Assisting the assistants.
He's a good guy, though, even if there's still some resentment -- both ways -- between himself and Washington State fans. I know he's had some sniffs at the NFL level, in assistant roles, but hadn't had any bites. So this should be a good transition for him and he should be able to help the Niners in some way.