Harbaugh hopes to keep coaching staff intact

Harbaugh: 'We will have an even bigger target'

Harbaugh hopes to keep coaching staff intact
February 5, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Jim Tomsula is one of two coaches on Jim Harbaugh's staff rumored to be targeted for the Saints defensive coordinator position. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SANTA CLARA -- Jim Harbaugh breeds an environment of togetherness, and there's a fighting chance his coaching staff will practice what they preach and remain intact for another season.

"I think that's definitely a possibility," Harbaugh said Tuesday. "Like players and free agents when a team has success, there's going to be those situations."

Last offseason, that situation emerged when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came calling for secondary coach Ed Donatell, hoping to employ him as their defensive coordinator. NFL teams are permitted to deny assistants under contract the chance to interview for assistant coaching jobs on other teams, and the 49ers did just that, retaining the NFL coach of over two decades.

The Eagles and Saints each have a defensive coordinator opening that would seemingly appeal to both Donatell and long-time defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.

One Philadelphia broadcaster projected that Donatell, who Eagles new head coach Chip Kelly knew as University of Washington's defensive coordinator, would join Philly in that capacity. Donatell has had no reported contact with the Eagles, but it should be mentioned that he is still under contract with the 49ers, should they desire to deny his departure a second time.

"I definitely aspire to (be a defensive coordinator again), but I also know a good thing," Donatell said at Super Bowl Media Day. "It's set up so we can have some nice years here."

Tomsula, who ushered the 49ers defense from the depths of the league in 2006 to its current place as the second-stoutest in 2012, also addressed the job openings inside the Superdome. He had positive things to say both for the Saints defensive players as well as head coach Sean Payton and assistant head coach Joe Vitt.

With the 49ers' ascent to NFL elite, the footing of Harbaugh's coaching staff grows more precarious. The rising stock of offensive and defensive coordinators Greg Roman and Vic Fangio has led to speculation they could receive offseason head coaching offers. But when the Arizona Cardinals announced Bruce Arians would be their leader in January, the last of the NFL's eight head coaching vacancies was filled. It all happened before Harbaugh's staff finished game-planning for their first of three playoff games.

With the task at hand so daunting, the likelihood anyone in Harbaugh's staff was seriously contemplating a potential new job is slim.

"I'm so dialed-in on this," Roman said after advancing to the NFC Championship, "that (getting a new job) is the furthest thing from my mind right now. Believe me."

Harbaugh reiterated over the course of the season that any team would be lucky to have his coordinators as head coaches, even acknowledging that day will likely come. But it's not here yet. The 49ers coaching staff has a chance to endure a second offseason without losing a significant position coach or coordinator.

"One of our strengths is our togetherness," Harbaugh said in his final official press conference Tuesday. "There's a brotherhood on this team. We'll strive very hard to keep that going."

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