San Francisco 49ers  


Billick gaining steam as strong candidate for 49ers' coaching job


Don't rule out Brian Billick as a strong coaching candidate in San Francisco, league sources say.

Several general managers, agents and people close to Jim Harbaugh and other potential "top" candidates for the open head-coaching job don't believe those people will end up with the 49ers.

But the 49ers' hierarchy has discussed Billick, who guided the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl title following the 2000 season, and several personnel executives I've spoken to say they believe he has a legitimate shot in San Francisco and perhaps with at least one other team.

The 49ers (5-10) fired coach Mike Singletary after Sunday night's loss at St. Louis eliminated them from playoff contention. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula was made interim head coach for Sunday's finale against Arizona Cardinals.

Billick, an analyst for NFL Network, has ties to the Bay Area. A tight end out of BYU, he was drafted by the 49ers in 1977 -- he never played in the NFL -- and served as Dennis Green's assistant head coach and tight ends coach at Stanford University from 1989 to 1991.

Billick, 56, has remained close to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, his former defensive coordinator with the Ravens, and if Lewis doesn't receive a new contract (many believe Mike Zimmer will be promoted to Cincinnati's head coach), a Billick-Lewis tandem could carry considerable allure.

"You could sell that combination in San Francisco," one NFL executive said. "You could definitely sell that. I could see that."

Billick, who spent seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings as tight ends coach and then offensive coordinator and was the Ravens' head coach from 1999 to 2007, has been in broadcasting since he was fired by Baltimore. League sources say he is gaining more traction as a viable option this offseason than he has before.



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