Defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, a defensive coordinator for seven NFL seasons with two different teams, wants to be a coordinator again. But he will not get that opportunity next season.
The 49ers denied the New Orleans Saints permission to interview Donatell about their opening at defensive coordinator, the NFL Network reported Wednesday.
It is the second year in a row 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh denied permission for Donatell to leave the 49ers for a defensive coordinator job. Last year, the 49ers blocked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from hiring him.
At the Super Bowl, I sat down with Donatell, 56, and talked to him about this subject.
"They can do that," Donatell said. "That's the way the system works and it's fair."
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But is it fair to prevent a position coach an opportunity for a promotion with another organization?
"It's fair because I signed that contract," Donatell said. "I had a choice not to. You look at every year and make that decision."
Donatell was Green Bay's defensive coordinator from 2000 to '03. He served as Atlanta's defensive coordinator from 2004 to '06. He said he'd love to be a coordinator again and believes he would be much better because of the experiences of working under Eric Mangini with the New York Jets, Mike Nolan with the Denver Broncos, and Vic Fangio with the 49ers.
"It's something I definitely aspire to do again, but I also realize I'm part of something special here now," Donatell said. "I am under contract. Things are in place in San Francisco, if you look at what (general manager) Trent Baalke has done in the personnel department and the shape the roster is in. I know how hard it is to create this chemistry and harmony that Harbaugh has created here. It's a winning environment and attitude. He's created a great environment to work in.
"The gist of the story is, a lot of people would love to be coaching for the 49ers right now. And it's inevitable. He (Harbaugh) wants a big (coaching) tree. This tree is going to go over the next few years. We don't need to rush it. We need to enjoy it.
"Nothing is better than this. I'd give up the years of advancement to be a part of this. There is so much that goes along with it. This is the highest high. This is why you coach."