Two 49ers assistants viewed as strong OC candidates this offseason

Two 49ers assistants viewed as strong OC candidates this offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The Kyle Shanahan coaching tree has branches spread out across the NFL, and NBC Sports' Peter King believes its reach could grow next season courtesy of two 49ers assistant coaches.

As teams that missed the playoffs this season begin pondering additions to their coaching staffs, King pinpointed a duo in San Francisco who both could help struggling teams as their offensive coordinator: Tight ends coach Brian Fleury and passing game coordinator Klint Kubiak.

King broke down what each assistant coach has to offer teams in his latest "Football Morning in America" column published Monday.

Klint Kubiak

Kubiak lived up to expectations during the 2023 regular season, earning the job after former 49ers passing game coordinator Bobby Slowik joined DeMeco Ryans' staff as the new Houston Texans offensive coordinator. King envisions the same sort of pathway for Kubiak, whose brother Klay serves as the 49ers' assistant quarterbacks coach.

"The Shanahan/Kubiak tree has many branches, but this is the first year Klint, son of longtime coach Gary Kubiak, has coached for a Shanahan, and he’s part of why Brock Purdy has had such a good year," King wrote. "He’s had a diverse run in the league for such a young coach, including play-calling last year down the stretch in Denver, after Nathaniel Hackett was fired. Cerebral, like his dad."

With Purdy at the helm, the 49ers' passing game this season has become one of the NFL's most explosive behind a young quarterback who excelled at the deep ball. It's a testament to the work Kubiak has done in the Bay, and certainly should catch the attention of teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers or New England Patriots searching for a spark.

Brian Fleury

Fleury is in his second season as San Francisco's tight ends coach but fifth with the franchise, having spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons as an offensive quality control coach and the 2019 season as a defensive quality control coach.

His first season with the tight ends in 2022 resulted in a career-high 11 touchdowns for George Kittle -- the third-most in a single season by a tight in 49ers franchise history -- and Kittle this season completed the third 1,000-yard receiving campaign of his career.

The assistant's impact is evident, and that coupled with his versatility is why King foresees an even bigger coaching role in Fleury's future.

"Unknown outside the Niners, valued highly inside the building as the run-game authority trusted by Kyle Shanahan," King said of Fleury. "You get points with Shanahan for knowing the complete game, and Fleury has been a linebackers coach, director of football research, quality control coach and assistant position coach in his NFL years.

"Shanahan will not want to lose him."

But as the 49ers Faithful know, Shanahan is used to losing his fantastic assistants and coordinators to opposing NFL teams. From Slowik and Mike McDaniel to DeMeco Ryans and Robert Saleh, those who succeed in San Francisco often move on and grow in their coaching careers.

And with the Chargers reportedly requesting to interview 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks for their head-coaching vacancy, perhaps San Francisco should brace for multiple departures this offseason if King's intuition is right.

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