The Philadelphia Eagles need an accomplished, qualified defensive coordinator. Speculation was that the Eagles would find yet another college coach to fill the role, like Georgia Bulldogs’ coordinator Todd Grantham. However, Philadelphia radio host Howard Eskin alleged on Jan. 22 that they are looking into someone from the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers -- although they can’t hire him until next month.
Eskin posted on Twitter that “2 NFL sources and another report” say the Eagles are looking to 49ers’ defensive backs coach Ed Donatell as their new defensive coordinator. However, since the 49ers will be in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, Donatell can’t be hired by anyone until then.
Philadelphia needs to shore up the rest of Chip Kelly’s new staff in a hurry, so waiting another two weeks for Donatell might be counterproductive. Yet Kelly knows him from when he was defensive coordinator for the University of Washington in 2008 -- when the Huskies were winless -- so he might be willing to wait for him.
Hiring anyone from the new NFC champions would be big for the Eagles -- especially since 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh won big right out of college, just like Kelly hopes to do. In addition, San Francisco has become one of the toughest defensive teams in football since Harbaugh and Donatell arrived in 2011. Still, the 49ers have been winning recently because of Colin Kaepernick and the offense, while the defense has struggled in recent weeks.
As for Donatell himself, his defining moment before now was on the wrong end of one of the great plays in Eagles history. His Packers defense gave up Freddie Mitchell’s famed 4’th-and-26 catch in the 2004 divisional playoffs, which led to one of the Eagles’ most miraculous victories.
It was his last game for the Packers before joining the Falcons from 2004 to 2006, then he bounced around with the New York Jets, Washington Huskies and Denver Broncos before landing with the 49ers. But despite taking his lumps, Donatell is now heading to the Super Bowl for the first time.
Yet if the 49ers do win the Super Bowl and the defense has a big game, perhaps the Eagles won’t be the only ones looking to hire Donatell, if they aren’t already. As such, perhaps they do need the full two weeks to put together the best offer -- and find suitable alternates in case they can’t.