LeBron going back to Cavs:

Eric Mangini a Coach-In-Waiting for San Francisco 49ers?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The San Francisco 49ers are so serious about the 2013-14 NFL season that they managed to pry NFL analyst and former head coach Eric Mangini from the grasps of ESPN to take a low-profile senior offensive consultant job with the team.

The 49ers have all the coaching bases covered now.

To go along with arguably the NFL's most innovative offensive coordinator in Greg Roman, San Francisco has the leader of arguably the most dominant defense in the league in Vic Fangio. Now the team brings in Mangini, a former head coach with high-level defensive experience with elite franchises, and the only thing he will be responsible for is offering that something extra to prepare the 49ers' defense for opposing offenses -- a task he thrived at doing in three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.

The 49ers have no choice but to be serious, though. The team recently lost star wide receiver Michael Crabtree to a torn Achilles presumably for the entire regular season. San Francisco could use any advantage necessary, at the moment, to achieve an edge on the opposing team.

While Mangini will play a role largely behind the scenes, his input will be counted on and consumed.

But what exactly does the hiring of Mangini imply? Is Mangini the next defensive coordinator of the 49ers? Is Fangio looking at head coaching gigs? Or is this head coach Jim Harbaugh's way of trying out Mangini for a bigger role on the team in the future?

The answer could be "all of the above."

Fangio has never been a serious NFL coaching candidate. If anyone, it is Roman that is the likeliest to take a head coaching job elsewhere. In that case, the 49ers would have several offensive-minded coaches within their system that would be front-runners for the job.

Do not count out Mangini for a larger position with the team in the future, though. As CBS Sports' Clarke Judge is reporting, Mangini is looking at becoming a "more well-rounded coach."

"But it also appealed to me to be on offense. I think they're running game is really, really creative. They do a lot of different things. They have the Pistol offense, which is new and trending. And for me to be able to look at it through that lens is going to help me become a better and more well-rounded coach."

So is Mangini a potential heir apparent to Roman or Fangio?

For the time being, it does not matter. The 49ers have yet another weapon in their arsenal on defense, and an obvious candidate if other NFL teams come knocking for either Roman or Fangio after next season.

While the presumed loss of Crabtree for the season is a real blow to the defending NFC champions, the team continues to grow with additions like Mangini. Moves like that not only improve the team now but will keep the success sustainable for years to come.

Scott Semmler is a senior at San Jose State University fortunate enough to have covered nearly every Bay Area professional sports team, including the San Francisco Giants' 2012 World Series title. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSemmler22.

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