With all of the NFL’s head coaching vacancies filled, it appears the 49ers’ coaching staff will remain intact for at least one more season. San Francisco has apparently survived another year of teams looking to snag their assistants, with offensive coordinator Greg Roman emerging as a candidate to take over at Penn State in 2012 and wide speculation he would be a front runner to coach teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars after this season’s close (thank you, Gus Bradley).
As 49ers fans should consider themselves lucky to have their offensive specialist sticking around while their competition’s defensive coordinator is gone, fans of the Stanford Cardinal aren’t getting off so easy. With the Arizona Cardinals scooping up former Colts offensive coordinator/interim head coach Bruce Arians to replace Ken Whisenhunt, Indianapolis suddenly found themselves with a void. Enter Pep Hamilton, the Colts’ new offensive coordinator.
Hamilton had been serving as the Cardinal’s offensive coordinator since 2011, a position strangely titled ”the Andrew Luck Director of Offense” ever since the vaunted quarterback left for the NFL and an anonymous donor shelled out some dough to change the position’s name. The Cardinal’s offensive success in 2011 could have been (and largely was) attributed to Luck’s presence, but the 2012 season found very little signs of slowing despite the quarterback’s exit. This made Hamilton a hot commodity, especially with Luck and Chuck Pagano setting their sights on Stanford’s “Director of Offense.” According to ESPN.com, Hamilton was scheduled to interview for the position Friday, after already talking to the New York Jets about their offensive coordinator vacancy.
Don’t fret, Stanford fans. It could have been worse.
According to CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman, Hamilton also interviewed with the Oregon Ducks about becoming their new head coach on Friday. Hamilton would have succeeded a certain highly-coveted head coach whose surprising dart for the Philadelphia Eagles was trumped on newsstands only by Manti Te’o's imaginary girlfriend. According to Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, “Hamilton was interviewing for the Oregon head coaching job when the Colts grabbed him.” Pep leaving for Oregon would have been an especially low blow for Stanford, as he would take with him an abundance of knowledge regarding the Cardinal’s systems to a team they just finally figured out how to crack. Losing a stellar offensive mind will hurt the Cardinal, but if the Ducks were seriously considering him for their head coaching position you could call this hire a bullet dodged in Palo Alto.
Now that Hamilton is gone, Stanford has a coaching vacancy of their own. The guys over at Rule of Tree believe there’s a possibility the Cardinals will promote from within, much like they did with David Shaw and Hamilton himself after the 49ers pillaged their coaching staff. The likeliest candidate is offensive line coach and running game coordinator Mike Bloomgren.
The move to go with Bloomgren would make sense — Stanford is one of the only colleges left still running a pro-style, run-heavy offense. He developed one of the best offensive lines in college football and was involved in game-planning, so a transition into the new role should be smooth.
Stanford should be fine, especially if you consider the amount of coaching and player turnover it has experienced in the last two seasons. But if you’re looking for another reason to panic, just check in on Jon Wilner’s Twitter feed: his latest speculation regards whether Chip Kelly would be interested in stealing Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason.