Over the weekend, the San Francisco 49ers reportedly hired Tim Lewis to be their defensive backs coach. The team has yet to make the hiring official, but I would imagine at some point they will either send out a press release, or simply update the currently empty coaches page.
Lewis joins the 49ers having previously coached the Atlanta Falcons secondary for five seasons. During the last three seasons, he worked under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. We all know Mike Nolan from his days in San Francisco, but Matt Maiocco's article about Lewis's hiring brought up something I had forgotten about. Lewis was actually a finalist for the 49ers head coaching job way back in 2005. At the time Lewis was defensive coordinator for the New York Giants.
When the 49ers hired Nolan, they had conducted a fairly sizable interview process. Along with Nolan and Lewis, the 49ers interviewed Tennessee Titans' offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, and New England Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Lewis was a finalist alongside Nolan, but the team decided on Nolan. According to the Chronicle article linked above, Lewis was viewed as being a year or two away from a head coach job.
It's also interesting that the 49ers original top choice may have been then USC coach Pete Carroll. Tim Kawakami claimed in this 2010 article that the 49ers balked at his salary and power demands. They gave Nolan significant power, but likely were able to do it for a little less in salary given his first time head coach status.
None of this really means a whole lot of much now, but it is always fascinating to consider the hypotheticals of what could have been. For now though, the 49ers get a second crack at Lewis, albeit in a much smaller role. Of course, it will be an important one given that he is following the strong work of Ed Donatell. The 49ers secondary has a lot of interesting young talent, and could potentially lose one or both of their starters next season. Lewis will have important work in front of him.