Niners name Manusky defensive coordinator

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers hired San
Diego linebackers coach Greg Manusky as their defensive coordinator

Manusky, who played 12 seasons in the NFL, spent the last five
years on the Chargers' staff, where he worked on one of the
league's top defenses. He spent the previous season with Washington
before following coach Marty Schottenheimer to San Diego, where
they ran a 3-4 defense similar to the scheme favored by 49ers coach
Mike Nolan.

"I'm just excited to be part of an organization that's building
something now. It's an up-and-coming situation."
-- Greg Manusky

After a nine-hour job interview Monday, Manusky emerged as
Nolan's top choice despite no previous experience as an NFL

"I'm just excited to be part of an organization that's building
something now," Manusky said. "It's an up-and-coming situation."

Manusky replaces Billy Davis, who was fired last month after two
seasons. Nolan, a longtime defensive coordinator for four NFL
teams, was heavily involved with preparing the Niners' defense, yet
still dismissed Davis when the unit yielded an NFL-worst 412 points
in 2006 after giving up 428 in 2005.

Nolan plans to allow Manusky to call the 49ers' defensive game
plan, hopefully relieving himself of some Sunday stress. Manusky
has never called a game before, but Nolan is confident in his
ability to pick it up quickly.

"I wanted to get an NFL-experienced guy into the job -- someone
that had been around it, seen it, done it the right way," Nolan
said. "We will continue to collectively put a game plan together,
but that will be Greg's call. I think he's got a great mind to do

Nolan chose Manusky over Jaguars assistant Dave Campo, former
Lions assistant Donnie Henderson and 49ers assistant head coach
Mike Singletary, who is a candidate to fill the Dallas Cowboys'
head coaching vacancy.

San Francisco offensive coordinator Norv Turner is considered
the front-runner for that job in Dallas, which could mean Nolan
will have to replace his top three assistants from his 7-9 team. Al
Everest was named the 49ers' special teams coordinator last month
after Larry Mac Duff left to become assistant head coach at the
University of Texas.

The Cowboys aren't expected to choose a coach until after the
Super Bowl.

"I've spoken with Norv since he got back [from Dallas], and
it's still gray," Nolan said. "I'd love to know one way or the
other, so I know what I've got to do. I would have to guess -- and
only guess -- that he's the leading candidate."

Nolan also lost offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy to the top
job with the Green Bay Packers last season -- a remarkable track
record for a club with just 11 wins in the last two seasons.

"We've got a plan in place," Nolan said. "If something
happens, I guess we'll just create a situation where anybody who
wants to be a head coach should come and be our coordinator."

Despite Nolan's lengthy career as an assistant, he never coached
with either Davis or Manusky before hiring them. But Nolan got a
glowing recommendation for Manusky from San Diego defensive
coordinator Wade Phillips, Nolan's former boss with the Denver Broncos.

Manusky was a special-teams standout during his playing career
with Washington, Minnesota and Kansas City, playing in 113
consecutive games at one point. He recalls Vikings assistant
coaches Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin first encouraging him to pursue
a coaching career.

Manusky was thought to be a top candidate to replace Phillips --
another candidate for the top job in Dallas -- or Manusky might have
become Phillips' defensive coordinator with the Cowboys.

"The last couple of years, Coach Wade, I've been asking him for
advice," Manusky said. "I've been trying to take that next step
and [looking] at it from the perspective of a defensive
coordinator. Even though I haven't called any [games], I've been
training myself for the last couple of years."

The 49ers also signed safety Keith Lewis to a three-year
contract extension. Lewis, a longtime special-teams standout known
as a heavy hitter, started San Francisco's final nine games and
made 72 tackles.