I didn't know what to think when the San Francisco 49ers added Eric Mangini as the ever-vague "offensive consultant" last June. Admittedly, I didn't know much about him other than the fact that he was downright horrible as a head coach. For whatever reason, the players didn't seem to buy into his message and it seemed like nothing he did worked on either side of the football.
On top of that, he came into the job with, you know, a background in defense and not offense. So I was less than optimistic, but then again, "offensive consultant" doesn't exactly sound like it could have much of a profound impact on the team, good or bad. But now that he's been promoted to tight ends coach, I'm once again left wondering what I should be feeling.
There was talk of him being the quarterbacks coach if Greg Roman landed a head coaching gig, but that didn't happen. I imagine if it did we'd be having a much more serious discussion about this. Tight ends coach is obviously a big deal, the position means a lot for the 49ers and all, but if the man were in direct charge of Colin Kaepernick, we might be raising even more questions about why he's qualified.
That isn't to say that I've already made some kind of decision in my head that suggests he isn't. I just don't see why he is the best option for the job. I get that Jim Harbaugh wants him around, values his input and works well with him. If Harbaugh is more comfortable with him around, then that helps the team one way or another.
I can't claim to have a lot of knowledge about Reggie Davis (I have to say, I was a big fan of Pete Hoener while he was around, but haven't personally witnessed how Davis goes about things), but he had the job last season and is now getting switched over to assistant offensive line coach. Obviously, these guys are all involved in the offense in their own ways and Davis will still be involved, I just wonder what exactly Mangini can bring to tight ends.
One thing that's already been talked about is this simple point: if a coach works well with players, is a natural at teaching skills and passing on knowledge, then he'll be a big benefit either way.
He has a lot to work with, for the time being. Vernon Davis is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and Vance McDonald does have a lot of tools to succeed in this league. But there's a lot of work to be done with McDonald to be sure, and Mangini is now the guy in charge of his development. If he can get McDonald to be productive, then I'll be a believer.
But for now, I remain skeptical, though at the same time, admittedly uninformed. I'm not privy to the specific details of his job or how he works with people. But I'm eager to hear what everyone else thinks on this. Should we be wary, or more importantly, would this have been a much bigger deal if he was named QB coach?