Jim Harbaugh

Figuring out what Jim Harbaugh sees in Eric Mangini

Eric Mangini SF 49ers

Eric Mangini was hired as a “senior offensive consultant” in June. Why a guy who’s always been known as a defensive coach would get that job is anybody’s guess. During the 2013 season it was learned that Mangini was in charge of determining whether or not to challenge a call, which means he was about as good at his job as Shaq was at making free throws.

What Maiocco is referring to is a contingency plan in case Greg Roman left for a head coaching job. Geep Chryst would’ve become the offensive coordinator, and ManGENIUS would end up sliding into a role not many would’ve expected him to fill: quarterbacks coach.

  • Yes, even though Mangini played linebacker in high school and nose tackle in college.
  • Yes, even though Mangini has never held the position before.
  • Yes, even though the only team that scored over 20 points per game under Mangini’s watch was the 2008 New York Jets, who had Brett Favre as their quarterback.

What does Harbaugh see in Mangini — who made it clear after he was hired that his main goal was to become a head coach again? The following ideas may be completely off-base, but other than these three options I’m drawing a blank.

1. Harbaugh loves having Mangini around and expected another team (college or NFL) to poach Greg Roman before Vic Fangio, because Fangio just wants to coach a badass defense and not worry so much about the extra dosage of politics that comes with being a head coach. Since Harbaugh will always be the real quarterbacks coach, letting a QB-outsider like Mangini take the role would allow Harbaugh to control the signal-calling with minimal meddling.

2. Since Fangio’s unit performed far better than Roman’s throughout the 2013 season, Mangini was also around in case Fangio got a head job. That could either mean becoming defensive coordinator, or being named a position coach if Ed Donatell, Jim Tomsula or Jim Leavitt were promoted to that role (there sure are a lot of Jims on the 49ers’ coaching staff).

3. Colin Kaepernick grew up worshipping Brett Favre and plays like his childhood hero (if his childhood hero ran like Edwin Moses). Maybe the connection Mangini had with Favre after one year either allowed Mangini to make some sort of connection with Kaepernick, or convinced Harbaugh that Mangini could explain the finer points of Favrebacking to young Kap.

“I really, truly believe being a coach’s son the way I am, having a dad who coached for 42 years, that’s all I was ever around as a youngster. The adults were coaches and friends of my parents or acquaintances, or professionals that he worked with. And then as a player, all I ever had was coaches. I think I have a real good skill for picking great coaches. And that’s been a real talent of mine, I believe. And it was that way at USD, it was that way at Stanford, and it’s certainly the way it is here.”

The above quote was from Harbaugh’s press conference on Friday. Harbaugh has a right to brag about his ability to pick great coaches, but it’d be nice if he or someone else (Trent Baalke, perhaps) described exactly why Mangini was hired and why he’s up for jobs that don’t seem to make sense based on prior experience.

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