The Cincinnati Bengals saw their 2014 season come to an end on Sunday as they lost 26-10 to the Indianapolis Colts. The wrap of this game opens the door to interview opportunities for the two offensive coordinators. Hue Jackson and Pep Hamilton are both allowed to interview for head coach openings this week. Jackson is free to do what he wants pending appropriate permissions. Hamilton can do a first interview this week, but cannot do a follow-up interview until after the Colts lose, or the bye week before the Super Bowl if they keep advancing.
The Buffalo Bills have requested permission to interview Jackson, and there is a report the Atlanta Falcons might have interest as well. Jackson has been with the Bengals since 2012. He was secondary coach and assistant special teams coach in 2012, running backs coach in 2013, and offensive coordinator in 2014. Prior to that, he spent a season as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, having served as their offensive coordinator in 2010. He has bounced around the NFL since 2001, and got extensive college coaching experience before that, starting as a graduate assistant in 1987.
Jackson's time as Oakland head coach was kind of odd because of the timing of everything. Al Davis named him head coach in 2011 after serving as Tom Cable's offensive coordinator. Davis passed away the day before the Raiders Week 5 win over the Houston Texans. A week and a half later, shortly after quarterback Jason Campbell was lost to a broken collarbone, Jackson was reportedly the driving force behind the Raiders acquiring Carson Palmer. Jackson and Palmer had worked together at USC and then in Cincinnati. Davis's death left a void in the Raiders, and Jackson filled it to a certain extent.
There has been some chatter about how Jackson dealt with higher ups, which would certainly be something to consider given Jim Harbaugh's departure from the 49ers. Former Raiders CEO Amy Trask defended Jackson on CBS earlier Sunday:
Former #Raiders CEO Amy Trask on Hubert Jackson: "There is a misconception ... that Hue is difficult to work with. ... He is delightful."— Steve Corkran (@CorkOnTheNFL) January 4, 2015
More Trask on Jackson: "Hue Jackson is one of the most brilliant offensive minds I have ever had the privilege and pleasure of working with"— Steve Corkran (@CorkOnTheNFL) January 4, 2015
Final Amy Trask on Hue Jackson: "He does what you hope a coach will do, which is put his players in the best position to win."— Steve Corkran (@CorkOnTheNFL) January 4, 2015
The Bengals improved considerably in the ground game, with Football Outsiders ranking them No. 10 in 2014, a year after ranking them No. 20. Adding Jeremy Hill certainly helped, so there will be some debate about what led to what. But if the 49ers think he can help lead more of a power rushing attack, maybe that gives him a leg up. He has not been connected to the 49ers yet, but given how the list has evolved, it would not be at all surprising.
It is worth noting that the Colts have received interview requests for offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. The Bills and Raiders are the first two teams to submit a request. People have suggested the 49ers look into him as well, but there is no word yet. On a related note, Bruce Arians said the Arizona Cardinals have received requests from the Falcons, Bears and Jets in regard to interviewing defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. The 49ers were reported to be interested, but this would seem to indicate they have not formally submitted an interview request.