The Associated Press
The New York Jets stuck with defense. The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders are giving it a try, too.
The Jets hired Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles as head coach Wednesday, the 49ers promoted longtime defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, and the Raiders turned to Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
Denver, Atlanta and Chicago still have openings. On Wednesday, John Fox interviewed with Chicago, two days after parting ways with Denver.
The 49ers said Tomsula will be formally introduced Thursday at a news conference that comes after a more than two-week search that ended right in house.
Tomsula replaces Jim Harbaugh, who parted ways with the 49ers on Dec. 28 in what the team called a “mutual decision.” Harbaugh was introduced as Michigan’s coach two days later following a successful four-year stint during which the 49ers reached three straight NFC championship games and a Super Bowl.
“After conducting a thorough coaching search, and meeting with a number of outstanding candidates, Jim Tomsula clearly is the right man to lead this team,” CEO Jed York said in a statement.
San Francisco went 8-8 this season and missed the playoffs.
The Jets made it official with Bowles, also a top candidate for the Atlanta job, a day after hiring former Houston director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan as general manager. They fired Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik on Dec. 29 following a 4-12 finish.
“I am confident that Todd and Mike Maccagnan are the right combination to lead this team,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said.
Bowles, a former NFL defensive back, is the Jets’ sixth straight defensive-focused head coach and fifth since Johnson took over in 2000, following Bill Parcells, Al Groh, Herm Edwards, Eric Mangini and Ryan.
“It’s an honor and privilege to coach the Jets,” Bowles said in a statement. “I can’t help but be humbled by the chance to coach this team. I am going to do everything I can to build a consistent winner.”
Bowles from Elizabeth, New Jersey, was the Jets’ defensive backs coach under Groh in 2000 season. He beat out five other candidates who interviewed, including Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and former Buffalo coach Doug Marrone.
A person with knowledge of the Del Rio’s hiring said a deal was agreed to Wednesday, not long after the team told interim coach Tony Sparano he would not get the job. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an announcement had not been made.
Del Rio, a former NFL linebacker, was the head coach in Jacksonville for nine seasons before spending the past three as Denver’s defensive coordinator.
Sparano was elevated from offensive line coach during the season to replace the fired Dennis Allen. Oakland went 3-9 under Sparano after losing the first four games under Allen.
Ryan ended up in Buffalo on Monday and was as brash and bold as ever Wednesday at his first news conference.
“Is this thing on?” Ryan said, tapping the microphone. “Because it’s getting ready to be on.”
Outlining his objectives, Ryan said the job is his last chance to prove himself. He vowed to build the Bills into “a bully” and said he has an additional chip on his shoulder after being fired by the Jets.
“Yes, it’s personal,” he said, about being fired. “It’s embarrassing.”
Marrone shocked the Bills by stepping down Dec. 31. The second-year coach opted out of his contract after Terry and Kim Pegula purchased the franchise in October. Ryan made a veiled reference to Marrone’s departure by saying: “This football team deserves a loyal coach.”
Bowles becomes the fifth black head coach currently in the NFL, joining Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, Tampa Bay’s Lovie Smith and Detroit’s Jim Caldwell.
A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that former Dallas and Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey will be Bowles’ offensive coordinator. Gailey was out of football the last two seasons after being fired as the Bills’ coach after the 2012 season.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Jets have not announced the hiring.
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