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Rules for requesting interviews with assistant coaches under contract

The San Francisco 49ers will schedule interviews from a variety of assistant coaches in the coming days and weeks. That means it is time for a reminder on the rules for requesting interviews of coaches currently under contract.

The San Francisco 49ers head coach search is underway, and the team has begun scheduling interviews for the coming days. We learned on Tuesday that the 49ers will interview former NFL head coach Mike Shanahan on Wednesday, and is scheduling an interview with Buffalo Bills assistant head coach/running backs coach Anthony Lynn for sometime this week. On Monday, we learned the team requested an interview with Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.

Before we get too much deeper into the interview schedule, I figured now is as good a time as any to review the rules for interviewing. No rules pertain to Mike Shanahan since he is unemployed at this point. However, there are rules regarding coaches currently employed by another NFL team.

Non-playoff teams

Coaches on a non-playoff team can interview at one point once the regular season ends. An assistant coach under contract for the 2016 season must be granted permission to interview with another team if the interview is for a head coach position. A team can deny interviews for an assistant coach under contract interviewing for a non-head coach position.

Playoff teams with bye

Coaches on the top two seeds in either conference can interview with another team during the week of their bye. That would apply to coaches like Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and DC Matt Patricia, or Carolina Panthers OC Mike Shula and DC Sean McDermott. The interview must take place in the city of the assistant's current team, and that first interview must take place during the wild card round bye week.

Playoff teams without bye

Coaches on teams playing wild card weekend cannot interview during the week of the wild card game. If a team loses, the "non-playoff teams" rules listed above apply. If a team wins, their coaches must be allowed to interview the week leading up to the divisional round games. The interview must take place in the city of the assistant's team, and the team can decide which day they will allow their assistant coaches to interview for head coach positions. The first interview must take place during that divisional round week.

Follow-up interviews

If a team wants to conduct a second interview with a candidate whose team keeps winning and earns a spot in the Super Bowl, the team must wait until the bye week of the Super Bowl. They can conduct a second interview with the candidate (team permission needed) in the week after the conference championship game. Once the team arrives in Santa Clara for the Super Bowl, interviews cannot take place.