Here is a link to my Tuesday column about Todd Bowles, a hot head-coaching prospect in the NFL and who may or may not be on the 49ers’ radar. The full text runs below:
Bio of safety Todd Bowles from the 49ers’ 1991 media guide: “Durable, intelligent, wily veteran. Acts as coach on the field.”
If things break right for Bowles with the 49ers, he may not merely act as the coach on the field. He may be the coach on the field.
The 49ers already interviewed Bowles for their vacant head-coaching position. It has been reported the 49ers will interview Bowles a second time. Bowles is currently defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. According to reports, the 49ers have not interviewed their own defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, a second time.
Don’t you love “according to reports?”
According to reports the Earth is round.
Bowles, 51, is one hot item. In addition to the 49ers, the Jets, Falcons and Bears have interviewed him, may interview him a second time and are interested in hiring him as head coach.
What do we know about Todd Bowles?
He has done a marvelous job in Arizona. The Cardinals’ defense is strong and effective. It is a first-rate defense. And that is on Bowles.
He is bright and could be a good head coach for the 49ers. Will he be better than Jim Harbaugh? The answer is blowing in the wind.
What would be right about the 49ers hiring Bowles?
They would get a good defensive coach who has head-coaching experience. He was the interim head coach in Miami after the Dolphins fired Tony Sparano in 2011.
The 49ers would weaken a rival, the Cardinals, by taking one of their essential coaches.
Bowles knows the NFC West, knows the Seahawks, knows the Cardinals. Huge advantage for the 49ers.
Bowles is a Bill Parcells guy — no need to go into their long history together. Trent Baalke also is a Parcells guy and, one assumes, Parcells has recommended Bowles to Baalke and Jed York. That is a mark of distinction.
What is wrong with the 49ers hiring Bowles?
“Wrong” may be, well, the wrong word. Try this. What are the possible downsides?
Bowles won’t arrive on his own. He needs to bring in an offensive coordinator and a host of position coaches. Does he have the connections? This is a huge issue for an aspiring head coach.
Will he and Baalke agree on which 49ers assistants to retain? For example — this is merely a hypothetical — if Baalke wants to retain running backs coach Tom Rathman but Bowles wants to bring in his own guy, there is a problem. Will problems like these turn into deal breakers?
But those are generic problems any new coach would face. Does Bowles present any unique problems? Call them Bowles-specific problems?
I can think of two.
A Todd Bowles defense is the exact opposite of a 49ers defense as we’ve come to know it. Bowles calls lots of “dogs” — linebacker blitzes — and he blitzes safeties. He blitzes all over the place. He could do that in Arizona because he has cornerback Patrick Peterson, a two-time All Pro. All Pro means he twice was regarded as one of the best two corners in the NFL.
When you have Peterson, you can blitz like crazy. You are unafraid to leave him alone with a top receiver because Peterson can handle the guy.
The Niners do not play that style. Their corners are not Peterson-caliber and need all the help they can get. If linebackers or safeties blitz, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox and Tramaine Brock could find themselves abandoned on an ice floe. They need safeties helping them. They do not want the safeties blitzing.
There’s more. The Niners defense is most definitely not a blitzing squad. Their quarterback pressure has come from the defensive linemen — hello, Justin Smith — and outside linebackers like Aldon Smith.
So we are talking two entirely different defensive systems. Call them different philosophies. The 49ers are not built for a Bowles defense, at least not at this time. It often is a mistake for a coordinator to move to another team and impose his system on that team no matter what. It can lead to failure.
Now comes the big issue, the big problem, the elephant in the room.
He is a great defensive coordinator who would like to be 49ers head coach. The players swear by him. His fellow coaches on the staff swear by him. He has succeeded even when key players were hurt — NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis. He is among the best defensive coordinators in the league.
If the Niners go outside their organization for a defensive head coach and shun a man who merits respect, they could create what my mother used to call a “situation.”
What would Bowles do with Fangio? Bowles could retain him as defensive coordinator. But Fangio, if he is human in the way I understand humans, would be asking himself, “They passed me over for THIS guy?”
Fangio may not be good at working under Bowles’ philosophy.
Bowles may choose to design the defensive game plan and call the defensive plays during the game — stuff Fangio used to do. Fangio would not like any of that. He would feel diminished.
Bowles may not want Fangio at all. Bowles may want his own guy as defensive coordinator. This is likely. The 49ers, who already blocked Fangio from interviewing for the defensive coordinator position in Washington, could allow Fangio to interview for other jobs — although many vacant positions no longer are vacant. Or they could pay Fangio to sit out a season.
Fangio made the 49ers a contender in the Harbaugh years — his defense carried Harbaugh’s offense, atoned for its multiple sins. He is plainspoken and honest and down-to-earth, things Harbaugh is not. He inspires confidence.
Is Bowles better than Fangio, if the 49ers even hire Bowles?
I have no idea. That report isn’t in yet.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.