SANTA CLARA -- Kevin Kolb's name came up a lot in offseason speculation for three NFC West teams.The St. Louis Rams' quarterback situation was set with Sam Bradford, but the 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks were viewed by many as logical landing spots for Kolb.As it turned out, the Cardinals wanted him badly, and acquired Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles shortly after the lockout lifted.After losing six games in a row with Kolb at the controls, the Cardinals are on a two-game win streak . . . with second-year player John Skelton as the quarterback. And Skelton will likely be at quarterback when the Cardinals visit the 49ers on Sunday.
Kolb has missed the past two games with a toe injury, and has not been cleared to practice, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said Wednesday in a conference call with Bay Area reporters. So Whisenhunt wanted no part in discussing the possibility Skelton might be the better option even when Kolb is healthy."Kevin hasn't been cleared to play, and he's only limited in practice. So there's no point, really, to even talk about this," Whisenhunt said. "I understand the interest and all the questions, but John has done exactly what we asked him to do, which was come in and play. Until we have a situation where we face that, there's no point in talking about that."The Cardinals acquired Kolb in a trade from the Eagles for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick. Arizona then awarded Kolb a five-year, 63 million extension. So the organization has invested heavily in Kolb.
"The intention of getting Kevin was for our future going forward, so we could grow as a group with a young guy that we felt could play the position," Whisenhunt said. "And that's still the intent. I think it's very difficult when you don't have an offseason. You're in a new offense. You're asking him to do things that he hasn't done for you before. When you get only six weeks of preparation and preseason and putting him in where the real bullets fly, it's difficult."With the challenges that teams faced with the compressed offseason, Whisenhunt was asked if it was even more impressive what the 49ers (8-1) have accomplished this season with quarterback Alex Smith learning the new offense Jim Harbaugh brought with him."That's a fair statement," Whisenhunt said. "They're an impressive football team. I think they've had a number of guys who have been there together working for a couple years. I know it seems like we've seen a lot of those guys the last couple of years."Kudos to Alex. I think they're a very talented bunch, and they're well-coached. I think Coach Harbaugh has done a great job with those guys."
First-year coach Kyle Shanahan is close to completing his 49ers coaching staff.
Shanahan will handle the duties of the offensive coordinator, the position he held with Houston, Washington and Atlanta over the past nine NFL seasons.
Robert Saleh is the 49ers' new defensive coordinator, while Richard Hightower has been hired as the special-teams coordiator.
Here's a look at the 49ers' coaching staffs under Shanahan and last season under Chip Kelly:
2017 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (2016 job)
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan (Falcons, offensive coordinator)
Defensive coordinator: Robert Saleh (Jaguars, linebackers coach)
Special teams coordinator: Richard Hightower (Bears, assistant special teams)
Assistant head coach/tight ends: Jon Embree (Buccaneers, tight ends)
Run game specialist: Mike McDaniel (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Quarterbacks: Rich Scangarello (Wagner, offensive coordinator)
Running backs: Bobby Turner (Falcons, running backs)
Wide receivers: Mike LaFleur (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Offensive line: Vacant
Offensive assistant: T.C. McCartney (LSU, offensive assistant)
Senior defensive assistant: Jason Tarver (49ers, outside linebackers)
Defensive line: Jeff Zgonina (N.Y. Giants, assistant defensive line)
Linebackers: Johnny Holland (Browns, inside linebackers)
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Offensive quality control: Taylor Embree (Chiefs, defensive assistant)
Defensive quality control: Bobby Slowik
Head strength and conditioning: Ray Wright
* * *
2016 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (current status)
Head coach: Chip Kelly
Offensive coordinator: Curtis Modkins (Bears, running backs)
Defensive coordinator: Jim O’Neil
Special teams coordinator: Derius Swinton
Quarterbacks: Ryan Day (Ohio State, quarterbacks)
Running backs: Tom Rathman
Wide receivers: Bob Bicknell
Tight ends: Jeff Nixon (Baylor, co-offensive coordinator/running backs)
Offensive line: Pat Flaherty (Jaguars, offensive line)
Assistant offensive line: Eric Wolford (South Carolina, offensive line)
Defensive line: Jerry Azzinaro (Cal, defensive line)
Assistant defensive line: Vince Oghobaase
Outside linebackers: Jason Tarver (49ers, senior defensive assistant)
Inside linebacker: Joe Bowden
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Assistant defensive backs: Roy Anderson (Bears, assistant secondary)
Assistant special teams: Michael Clay
Offensive quality control: Mick Lombardi (Jets, offensive assistant/assistant QBs coach)
Defensive quality control: Tem Lukabu
Senior analyst: Dana Bible
Director of human performance: Mark Uyeyama
John Benton, who coached on the same staff during Kyle Shanahan’s four seasons with the Houston Texans, has reportedly received permission from the Denver Broncos to interview with the 49ers.
The Broncos hired Benton on Jan. 15 to work as the team’s assistant offensive line coach under line coach Jeff Davidson.
But Denver coach Vance Joseph and general manager John Elway provided Benton permission to interview with the 49ers, Denver’s 9News reported. The Sacramento Bee was first to report the 49ers were looking at Benton.
The offensive line coach is the last major position that remains vacant on Shanahan’s staff.
Benton worked last season as Jacksonville’s assistant offensive line coach. He worked the previous 13 seasons as offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2003-05), Houston (2006-2013) and Miami (2014-15).
Shanahan’s first NFL coaching job was with Houston in 2006, when he coached wide receivers. Shanahan became the quarterbacks coach with the Texans in 2007 before spending the next two seasons as offensive coordinator under then-coach Gary Kubiak.
The 49ers announced nine additions to the coaching staff on Friday.
Also, the 49ers are expected to hire Daniel Bullocks as assistant defensive backs coach, according to The Sporting News. Bullocks worked in the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. The Jaguars' linebackers coach last season, Robert Saleh, is the 49ers' new defensive coodinator. Bullocks appeared in 31 games in three NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and '08.