The San Francisco 49ers head into Week 16 facing a Los Angeles Rams team that fired Jeff Fisher after Week 14, and is playing out the string with special teams coach John Fassel. The Rams appear to have begun their internal process for finding the next head coach, with leaks already surfacing.
Yahoo! Sports NFL columnist Charles Robinson reported earlier this week that the team is planning on focusing their search on former head coach and current Monday Night Football commentator Jon Gruden. His source said that Gruden will be the focus, but other candidates including Stanford Cardinal head coach David Shaw and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton could come into play.
Robinson reported that Gruden wants full personnel authority before he would even think about a meeting with the team. It sounds like if a meeting were to actually happen, the process could end up going pretty quick. Rams COO Kevin Demoff spent 2005 to 2008 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as senior assistant to general manager Bruce Allen. That also happened to be the final four seasons of Gruden’s time in Tampa Bay. So there is a familiarity.
Gruden addressed the rumors on Wednesday on Mike & Mike:
“I love football. I’ve said that a million times and I just want to say I’m very happy doing what I’m doing. And my full attention and focus is on the Cowboys-Lions. I cannot wait for our final Monday night game. There’s a lot of chips on the table. But right now, I have no intentions of coaching. I really enjoy what I’m doing and I feel like I’m really close to the fire. And I’m getting plenty of satisfaction out of doing what I’m doing.”
I am not surprised we are hearing big names as the Rams try and figure out their next step. The first season in LA was a bust, and while I think they can find season-ticket holders for their new stadium, they are going to need to turn this thing around soon to avoid early fan apathy.
I am skeptical Gruden will leave broadcasting, but if he was offered full control and all sorts of money, I could see this kind of thing happening. It will at least make the first week or two of January that much more interesting.