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49ers release Ed Donatell, Vic Fangio, Jim Leavitt from contracts

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The San Francisco 49ers have begun overhauling their coaching staff. The team reportedly released Ed Donatell, Vic Fangio and Jim Leavitt from their contracts. We break down what this means.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers coaching staff housecleaning appears to be getting a little more formalized. Last night, we heard that the entire coaching staff except for Tom Rathman would be out the door. Now we are getting more specific reports. Matt Maiocco is reporting defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and secondary coach Ed Donatell have been let out of their contracts. Eric Branch confirmed Donatell, and also said linebackers coach Jim Leavitt was being released from his contract.

None of this is surprising, but it is still disappointing given what the defensive coaching staff did over the last four years. We've talked about Fangio plenty. Donatell did great work with a secondary that featured a lot of new names over the years. Aside from the first round picks invested in Eric Reid and Jimmie Ward, the 49ers went for under-the-radar guys throughout their secondary. They developed into big names, but guys like Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Perrish Cox and so many more all did some good things at one point or another in their time with the 49ers.

I find myself disappointed in Jim Leavitt's departure, as he always seemed like quite the fiery personality on the sideline. Of course, as is the case with most position coaches, it is hard to figure out what his contribution was to things. He was previously a head coach at South Florida, so that likely provided experience he could use to better the linebackers, and the team as a whole. But even still, we don't know exactly what his role was. Of course, given the 49ers promotion of a position coach to head coach, you can take that however you want.

The 49ers had what some believed was the most expensive coaching staff in the NFL last year. Now they are shipping them all out, and potentially overhauling quite a few things. We are expecting to see a 4-3, and more of a return to the power rushing attack. I get the need to make changes to fit philosophical changes, but the 49ers are unloading some very talented coaches. Jim Tomsula and the 49ers might be able to develop a capable coaching staff, but they will have some big shoes to fill.