The 49ers have a bright, innovative and open-minding offensive coordinator and what appears to be a very strong staff on that side of the ball.
Eric Mangini's addition to the 49ers as "senior offensive consultant" certainly is not a move borne out of desperation, such as the two previous offensive consultants the 49ers employed.
In 1996, the 49ers' front office and coach George Seifert figured offensive coordinator Marc Trestman needed help. Bill Walsh was brought back to the organization at mid-season to awkwardly look over Trestman's shoulder and hand him notes during games.
In 2007, coach Mike Nolan came to the conclusion offensive coordinator Jim Hostler was overmatched in his first and only year in that role. Long-time coach Ted Tollner got the call to work with Hostler. That did not go so well, either.
On the surface, the 49ers do not have a need for someone to come in and help the offense. That's what makes the addition of Mangini so interesting.
In his oft-repeated quest "to get a little better each day," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is bringing in Mangini to give his coaching staff a unique perspective.
Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman seem to relish learning from others, and that is what this is about. They've spoken with high school coaches about the "fly offense." Roman was taught principles of the "pistol" from Chris Ault, who devised the formation at the University of Nevada. And Roman spent much of the 2011 lockout watching Walsh's installation videos.
Harbaugh also regularly seeks input, advice and observations from his father, Jack Harbaugh, a long-time college coach.
Harbaugh wanted to add a former coach as a consultant, and he spoke with a lot of different people, a source said, including former De La Salle High coach Bob Ladouceur.
Mangini was a defensive coach with the New York Jets and New England Patriots before landing head-coaching jobs with the Jets and Cleveland Browns. In five seasons as head coach, his teams were 33-47.
He has been out of coaching the past two seasons. In his first year away from the sideline, he was a guest of the 49ers at a practice in Youngstown, Ohio, in September 2011 as the team prepared to face the Philadelphia Eagles.
Mangini spent the past two seasons as an analyst at ESPN, where he rebuilt his reputation. Never known as particularly communicative during his head-coaching stints, Mangini proved to be bright and articulate on the air.
Harbaugh is expected to shed more light on Mangini's duties when he speaks to the media on Tuesday after organized team activities. But the main focus of Mangini's job will be to think one step ahead of the game for the 49ers' offensive coaching staff. He will bring a defensive perspective to studying the 49ers' offense and provide input on tweaks defenses might make when facing the 49ers.
Reportedly, Mangini wants to get more involved on the offensive side of the ball. This is that first step.
After serving in 1996 as an offensive assistant with the Baltimore Ravens, Mangini worked nine seasons on defense. Mangini spent just one year as a defensive coordinator (Patriots, 2005) before his two stints as a head coach.
The 49ers appear set on the defensive side of the ball behind coordinator Vic Fangio. The organization has blocked defensive backs coach Ed Donatell from defensive coordinator positions with Tampa Bay and New Orleans the past two offseasons. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula could also get a shot in the future as a defensive coordinator.
Offensively, Roman could be viewed as a head-coaching candidate in the future. Quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst and offensive line coach Mike Solari have been been NFL offensive coordinators in the past, and they would be the most logical coaches to receive promotions from this staff.
At 42, Mangini theoretically has a lot of coaching years ahead of him. Where it goes from here is anybody's guess. But it's not out of the question that he could end up with a permanent spot on Harbaugh's staff if both men find they'd like to grow their coaching relationship.