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Article Title: Offensive or Defensive Coach?
Article Date: Feb 2 2003
By Bryan Hersh

Offensive or Defensive Coach? That is the question, the answer lies on the defensive side. The 49ers need a defensive coach, simply because they already have an offensive system in place, which when run as it was designed is effective regardless of who is calling the plays. The defense though, really no longer even has links to the George Seifert days, and thus is due for a tune up.

Offensively, the 49ers run a West Coast Offense, and while the teamís offense had one of its worst showings since 1979 in terms of yards per play, and other statistics, it was still able to take the team into the second round of the playoffs. The 49ers have already stated their intentions to keep Gregg Knapp their offensive coordinator in charge of the offense. I canít think of an offensive coach that wouldnít want to hire their own offensive coordinator. That aside, Knapp is capable of running the WCO. Heís extremely experienced in the system and knows the intricacies of it. While he was calling the plays, that many were unhappy with last season, the play calling had to fit into the game planning of the coach, which was fairly conservative. It was also his first stab at calling the plays. Knapp should grow nicely into the position, and the offense has enough fire power between Garcia and Owens, an up and coming Tai Streets and a strong backfield to overcome Knappís shortcomings in the short term.

The defense is in a drastically different situation. Despite what many in the 49ers organization would have you believe, Jim Mora Jr, though good, has not done anything that remarkable with the young defense. His schemes are either plain or extremely complex, but never consistent, and he employs a bend but donít break philosophy that is highly ineffective when dealing with well rounded offenses. The defense needs a change in attitude, and the only way that will happen is with a defensive head coach.

The 49ers need a coach that can bring out the best in guys like Julian Peterson and Andre Carter, two former first round draft picks. They need someone that will be able to mold the defensive backfield to be able to contend with the best receivers in the league, and they need a defensive coach that can the defensive line back on track. Only a real defensive coach, someone who has proven that he can stop the best offenses in the league, and consistently place his defenses in the top of the league is suited for this position.

The truth of the matter is that the 49ers need help on both sides of the ball. But itís much easier for someone like Knapp to take the reigns and run with them on offense with a system in place, than to revamp a defense and best utilize personnel that has never been maximized before. That is why we need a defensive coach, and that is why the 49ers are looking primarily at defensive candidates.