Jed York

Coordinator déjà vu: Mike Vrabel turns down 49ers

Yesterday went so well. Chip Kelly sounded like a grownup football coach. Seeing as he’s smart, experienced and connected, filling out his staff should be a cinch. Right?

Uh oh, now we’re getting flashbacks to last year, just on the opposite side of the ball. Lane Kiffin said no. Rob Chudzinski said no. Bob Bicknell said no. No one wanted to be the 49ers offensive coordinator, so they were forced to promote Geep Chryst.

“Kaepernick’s affection for Chryst played into the decision to promote him,” according to Albert Breer’s very 49ers-friendly report. In effect, Breer provided a form of rationale for the 49ers brass that came across like a batter blaming the home plate umpire for his own strikeout after swinging and missing at the first three pitches.

So why might Vrabel, a linebackers coach for the Houston Texans (and a pretty charismatic figure, based on “Hard Knocks”), turn down a promotion from the 49ers?

Chip Kelly is a DC killer

Bill Davis’ defenses finished 29th, 28th and 30th in yards allowed in three years with the Eagles, and they finished progressively worse in points allowed each year (17th, 22nd, 28th).

It doesn’t appear that Davis will follow Kelly to Santa Clara, but that doesn’t mean Kelly is going to change.

“We get into the time of possession question and we’ve been in games where it was identical play snaps for us and our opponent. It was identical yardage for us and our opponent. It was identical first downs for us and our opponent. We won the game by seven, but they had the ball for 10 more minutes than we did. So, all I learned is that they stand around better than we stand around. It’s still plays run,” Kelly said on Wednesday.

“I’ve also never met a defense player that says, ‘Coach, I want you to possess the ball for the entire game so I don’t have to play.’ I want guys that on the defensive side of the football of the San Francisco 49ers can’t wait to get on the field and embrace the opportunity to get out there and play.”

The Yorks aren’t willing to pay

They got a lot of credit for ponying up for Kelly, although they might be getting a bit of a discount over the first two years.

I don’t know enough about the 49ers’ finances to make a judgment here, but the way to a football coach’s heart is through his wallet in most cases.

Maybe Vrabel just doesn’t want to leave the Texans

If Vrabel has a promise that he will be the defensive coordinator either next season or very soon, and the money is similar (even if it’s a bit less, it could break out even with state taxes and cost of living adjustments), why not stay in Houston? If you have a chance to be the 49ers’ defensive coordinator in 2016, where NaVorro Bowman and Aaron Lynch are the only above average players under contract, or the Texans DC in 2017 with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, is it even a choice considering Kelly’s complete disregard for time of possession?

Wildcard: the Patriots angle

Teams can deny other teams from interviewing coaches for lateral moves. In other words, if Vrabel became the 49ers defensive coordinator, and the Patriots needed to find a defensive coordinator to replace Matt Patricia a year later and Bill Belichick requested an interview with Vrabel, the 49ers could say no.

Whatever the reason Vrabel declined their offer, it’s yet another bad look for the 49ers. A franchise that acts like it’s the most prestigious in the NFL shouldn’t have a difficult time convincing assistant coaches to accept coordinator positions. At least they have Eric Mangini in their back pocket, much like Chryst a year ago.

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