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'Strong possibility' Eric Mangini returns as 49ers defensive coordinator, according to Alex Marvez

It was an up and down year for the San Francisco 49ers defense. Maybe we see some continuity to build on the positives?

The San Francisco 49ers coaching staff search rolls along, and it sounds like one notable name could return. FOX Sports NFL reporter Alex Marvez is reporting that there is a strong chance defensive coordinator Eric Mangini returns to the team in 2016. Mangini met with Kelly this past week, as the latter continues to develop his coaching staff.

The 49ers defense had plenty of issues in 2015, but compared to the offense, it made significant strides. The unit dealt with an incredible amount of turnover, losing Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Ray McDonald, Perrish Cox, and Chris Culliver. They got NaVorro Bowman back, but had to deal with a lot of adjustments. There is talent on the defensive side of the ball, but credit to Mangini for getting that unit moving forward in an otherwise horrible season.

The defensive coordinator role will be an important one for Kelly's coaching staff. Kelly will focus on the offense, and the defensive coordinator is likely to have a good deal of autonomy. Billy Davis served in the role in Philadelphia, but this could mean he won't be making the trip west. We'll likely get firm confirmation before the end of the week.