Super Bowl assistants mum on Eagles' DC job

Posted: January 31, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - The last time reporters from Philadelphia went traipsing around interviewing Super Bowl assistants they thought might be potential Eagles defensive coordinators, Andy Reid cut the whole business short by hiring Juan Castillo.

Andy can't do that to us this time. But we really have no idea what Chip Kelly might be up to, so it was with apprehension that we approached San Francisco defensive-backs coach Ed Donatell and Baltimore linebackers coach Ted Monachino at Super Bowl media day. Both have been identified as potential candidates, with extensive experience in the 3-4 setup Kelly apparently plans to run. Neither Donatell nor Monachino was willing to confirm any talks with the Eagles, which would be a violation of NFL rules, and would present a distraction heading into Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII.

Donatell, 55, said he has had no "official" contact with the Eagles.

How about unofficial contact?

"Not really," he said. "Out of respect for their process, what they're trying to do, I know they're moving along the way they should, and so forth, and our team here, we're here to work."

He said he met Kelly when Kelly came to visit the 49ers during an Oregon bye week. A week or so ago, Donatell was the most-talked-about Eagles candidate, but lately other names have emerged.

Donatell at first professed not to have heard he was being talked about in Philly. Then he allowed that "we hear things, and sometimes things are printed."

Monachino, 46, said: "I haven't had any conversations with anybody." Asked if his agent might have had such talks, Monachino said he doesn't have an agent.

Donatell is perceived as more of a 4-3 guy because he ran that scheme as defensive coordinator in Green Bay (yes, yes, fourth-and-26) and then Atlanta. But Donatell said he has spent the past several years - with the Jets, Broncos and now 49ers - immersing himself in the 3-4.

"I'm a 3-4 coach now, there's no question," he said. "I just think there's more combinations you can do, and there's more flexibility to it. It's not that you won't involve some 4-3 principles; a lot of people do, and I have some background in that."

Donatell said that after working with Eric Mangini with the Jets, Mike Nolan when he was in Denver, and now Vic Fangio in San Francisco, "I know how I want to do the 3-4 defense . . . it's like I went and did my extra studying, my masters work, learning from some very good guys."

Monachino, meanwhile, said: "I've been primarily a 4-3 guy, even though we've spent our last 3 years in Baltimore playing a hybrid 3-4 with a lot of 4-3 principles.

"Defense is defense. We have a feel for both schemes and understand what we know about those schemes. Don't know everything about 'em both. Nobody does. But I know what I know."

We don't know exactly what Kelly will do on offense, but he is closely identified with the read option. Donatell said the read option, which the 49ers employ somewhat with Colin Kaepernick, "makes it hard for us on defense, there's no question about it . . . For years, guys have been really pinning their ears back and rushing the quarterback. This is slowing 'em down a little bit, making you go through another step before you graduate to that.

"That's what's happening with Kaepernick. He's getting time because of our run game. Frank Gore's getting big holes, because they're worrying about [Kaepernick], too."

Donatell seemed very eager to run his own 3-4. Monachino said becoming a coordinator is "certainly not my focus right now. All I want to do right now is everything I can to help our team prepare for the 49ers."

Hall pass worked

Chad Hall turned down a spot on the Eagles' practice squad last September. He'd just been through his third training camp with the team, the Birds were keeping a very similar player in rookie Damaris Johnson. Hall felt it was time to move on.

But they say it's easier to find a job when you have a job, and the weeks flew past, Hall first working out in Philly, then back home in the Atlanta area. He worried no call would come.

"It was tough," Hall acknowledged Tuesday. "Training every day, running routes by myself, just staying ready . . . The later it got, the harder I worked."

Finally, on Nov. 27, the 49ers brought Hall onto their practice squad. Then, on Jan. 19 he was promoted to the active roster, just in time to be activated for the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta, in front of his family and friends.

"There'd been like 4 or 5 weeks before that they'd been like, 'Hey, I think you're going to be up this week.' It was kind of a back-and-forth," Hall said. "I was like, 'Man, come on, I'm ready to play.' I finally did."


CBS Sports reported that Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is leaving to join Chip Kelly's staff, presumably as quarterbacks coach. The Eagles aren't announcing any hires until their staff is complete, they say . . . As has been reported elsewhere, the way Michael Vick's contract works, the Eagles don't have to release him 3 days after the Super Bowl to save $3 million, after all; they would only owe Vick that money if somehow he made less than $3 million playing this coming season. So that gives them a month or so to explore a renegotiation of Vick's contract or a trade.

Paul Domowitch contributed to this report.

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