The 2014 NFL regular season is over and the San Francisco 49ers and head coach Jim Harbaugh have officially decided to part ways. Harbaugh is going to be announced as the 20th head coach in the history of the University of Michigan football program on Tuesday. The 49ers, on the other hand, are out of the postseason for the first time since 2011 and are in the market for a new head coach. San Francisco is only one year removed from playing in the NFC Championship Game, and has a roster loaded with talent making it one of the most attractive job openings in the league.
Here is a look at five potential replacements for Jim Harbaugh as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
1. Adam Gase
The 49ers have already asked for permission to interview the 36-year-old Denver Broncos offensive coordinator. Gase, who is in the running for the vacant head coaching job with the Atlanta Falcons, will be a name brought up with nearly every available head coaching job this offseason. He has some time off this week to interview for jobs with the Broncos clinching a first-round playoff bye.
Some credit Gase’s success to having Peyton Manning as his quarterback, but there is still no denying that he was the architect behind the best offensive season by a team in NFL history and has led an offense that has averaged 34 points per game during the last two seasons.
2. Josh McDaniels
McDaniels actually interviewed for the job with the 49ers when the team hired Harbaugh back in 2011, so he is no stranger to the guys who will be hiring the team’s next head coach. The Patriots offense has been outstanding in 2014 under McDaniels’ guidance, but the 38-year-old will have to prove that he has matured by leaps and bounds since being fired as of the head coach of the Denver Broncos in 2010.
3. Dan Quinn
Quinn, the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, actually has coaching experience with the 49ers, serving as the team’s defensive quality control coach from 2001-2002 and defensive line coach from 2003-2004.
Quinn is going to be one of the first names brought up for any head coaching vacancy this offseason. He is currently in his second season as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, with his defense again leading the team to the top playoff seed in the NFC in 2014. In 2013, Quinn’s first season as the defensive coordinator in Seattle, the Seahawks led the league in yards allowed, points allowed, and takeaways en route to a dominating win in Super Bowl XLVIII.
4. Todd Bowles
The 49ers have already requested permission to interview Bowles, the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals. As a minority candidate, Bowles will likely be interviewed for nearly every head coaching vacancy in the NFL this year. With that being said, Bowles is a legitimate candidate to be a head coach in the league in 2015. His Arizona defense has been one of the best in the league all season, and is the main reason the team finished 11-5 and earned a playoff berth in 2014. At 51 years old, Bowles is firmly in the prime of his coaching career and has always been considered a “player’s coach.”
5. Vic Fangio
Fangio was Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator for his entire stint in San Francisco. During that stretch, the 49ers have consistently had one of the best defenses in the league and Fangio has always been well respected by his players. He may be a long-shot at best to land the head coaching job, but he has already let the San Francisco front office know that he is interested in taking over for his former boss.