The San Francisco 49ers have plenty to deal with in the coming week as the playoffs get started, but there will be at least one outside distraction. Week 17 is coming to a close, which means Black Monday is at hand. Black Monday is the day after the NFL season, when we see teams fire head coach and began the rebuilding process.
The 49ers will open the playoffs this coming weekend with their wild card matchup. As I understand the interview rules, the 49ers lack of a bye means their assistants will not be allowed to interview for open NFL head coach jobs at this point. One sports agency that represents coaches said in this PDF that assistants in wild card games are allowed to interview after their first round games, but before the second round begins. According to that document, there can only be one interview during the postseason period, and it must be held in the assistant's home team city. The PDF also says that no interviews can be request or granted after the divisional round.
We've already had some firings, including changes in Cleveland, Minnesota and Washington.
Word spread Sunday morning that head coach Rod Chudzinski was on the hot seat. By the end of the night, he was engulfed in flames, as the Browns fired him. He was in charge there for a single season, but ownership was not happy with how the season closed. They're entitled to think what they want, but canning a guy after year one seems a little bit extreme.
The Browns seemed to have some things going in their favor this year, but the re-building process continues under general manager Mike Lombardi. I have to think this will be a difficult job to find quality candidates given the frequent turmoil.
Leslier Frazier is out. He had a solid season last year, but this year it was mostly blah. Frazier did not inspire a whole lot of confidence, and moving into a new stadium probably made it a little easier to make the move.
There was some chatter on Sunday that Bill Cowher was already a favorite for the job, but my guess is that is just someone throwing some crap against the wall. I suppose it's possible, but Cowher is the kind of name that, much like Gruden, always comes up this time of year.
Head coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik have both been fired. Schiano got off to a horrific start, but a solid stretch seemed like it might save his job. Not so much.
Jim Schwartz was canned after five seasons. He was 29-51 with one playoff appearance. I'm disappointed he got canned because it was nice having a nemesis the team beat in back-to-back seasons. But it is not a surprise.
We'll update with more firing details as they come available.
What does it mean for the 49ers?
I don't know if the 49ers coaches end up getting interviewed during this early stretch, but these are not the only openings that matter. Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien is in the mix for the Texans job, and all the reports seem to indicate he is developing into a favorite for the job. And even if he does not get that job, he could still interview for some of these other openings.
Another popular name will be Baylor head coach Art Briles. He recently signed a 10-year contract extension, but as we've seen in the past, college head coaching contracts are often barely worth the paper they're printed on. One rumor has the buyout at $5 million, so that is one thing to keep in mind.
If one or both of these guys heads to the NFL, it opens up the Penn State job. Two offseasons ago, Greg Roman was reportedly a finalist at Penn State before they eventually hired O'Brien. He's from nearby in New Jersey, and in early 2012 he said the PSU job was a "lifetime job". He said, "That's a job if I were to become the head coach there, I'd wouldn't leave there."
It's been two years, so it's possible his interest level has changed. And it's possible Penn State would have an eye elsewhere. Ian Rapoport reported Sunday morning that their AD was prepared to make a strong push for Greg Schiano.
So who really knows what it all means. There will be a lot of chatter today and in the coming days. We won't have a ton of threads for this stuff until 49ers assistants become involved, if at all. In the meantime, feel free to drop coaching news links in here.