The Chicago Bears have concluded their defensive coordinator search by hiring Chuck Pagano to fill the role left by Vic Fangio, who left to become head coach of the Denver Broncos. Many have fond memories of Fangio as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator during the Jim Harbaugh era. Fangio coached one of the best defenses in the league, playing at a high level even in the face of numerous injuries. The bend, don’t break defense offered yards, but also made you pay dearly for every catch or run you made with punishing hits.
That leaves Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell up in the air. Donatell interviewed for the Bears’ defensive coordinator position, but they settled on Pagano instead. Pagano has already started making decisions, with reports saying outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley is on his way out. Other positions may be on the way. Donatell on the other hand could return to the Bears or join Fangio in Denver, according to Broncos beat writer Mike Klis.
It’s worth bringing up because Donatell has history with the 49ers during the Harbaugh era. When Harbaugh was coaching a successful program, all speculation was what would happen when his coordinators left. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman would get interviews every year, and Fangio was seen also seen as a possible casualty to a head coaching vacancy. Then, of course, when we talked about some departures, the question came on who the 49ers could choose to replace Fangio. It came down to two candidates in my mind back then, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and defensive backs coach Ed Donatell. I know a lot of us leaned on Donatell to take the job, mostly because he had experience as a defensive coordinator, allowing a smoother transition (which of course never happened).
The 49ers don’t need a defensive coordinator, but they do need a defensive backs coach, and while the efficiency of Donatell’s defenses may depend on who you ask, there’s no denying he’s a heck of a coach for the secondary. It seems like a good fit to get him back and get some ball-hawking mentality back to the secondary.
Just two problems: The 49ers coach a 4-3 instead of a 3-4 that Fangio did, and that same Fangio also needs a coach. Donatell has been loyal to Fangio these last few years, but maybe a trip to San Francisco isn’t off the table.
This is a high and clear long shot to happen. But just throwing it out there: What are your thoughts to the 49ers picking up the phone and bringing Donatell in? They need a defensive backs coach and he’s one of the best. Do you see a mutual fit here? Do you make the call.
That is of course if the Bears don’t block the 49ers.