The San Francisco 49ers might be circling in on a defensive coordinator. ESPN's Dianna Marie Russini is reporting the team has offered their defensive coordinator job to Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel. She is reporting the team is awaiting his response.
Eric Mangini reportedly spoke with Chip Kelly last week, and he remained under contract after the 49ers released 10 coaches from their contracts. Vrabel interviewed on Tuesday, according to reports. He is working in a 3-4 defense in Houston, and Kelly said on Wednesday that he plans on running a 3-4 with the 49ers.
Although he is an offensive-minded coach, he is still the head coach, and at least needs a passing clue about what his defense is doing. That being said, the DC is going to have a lot of responsibility. Kelly will be calling offensive plays during the game, and busy developing the offensive game-plan each week. The DC will get more leash than most DCs. Vrabel is viewed as an up-and-comer among coaches, with Bill Belichick offering plenty of compliments about him.
At the same time, Vrabel has two years of NFL assistant experience, and three years of college assistant experience. Of course, he also has 14 years NFL playing experience under his belt. He spent eight of those seasons playing for Bill Belichick, so if he's a smart guy, he likely learned a thing or two under the hooded on.
A Houston Texans beat writer had this to say about Vrabel:
A fiery former NFL Pro Bowl linebacker with the New England Patriots who's coached Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus the past two seasons, Vrabel also has a strong recommendation from Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick has gushed about Vrabel, whom he coached for the majority of his NFL career. Belichick and Kelly, a former University of New Hampshire coach who frequently attended Patriots practices, are friends. Vrabel won three Super Bowls with the Patriots and played in the NFL for 14 seasons. He finished his career with 704 tackles, 57 sacks, 11 interceptions, 17 forced fumbles and 10 touchdowd catches.
"During his Patriots career, there was no player more respected for his football intellect and revered for his leadership by his teammates than Mike," Belichick said. "Mike Vrabel is as well-suited for coaching as any player I have ever coached."