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New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride speaks to reporters following football practice at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Jan. 8, 2009.

The New York Giants' season-ending loss Sunday in the NFC playoffs just might be the Raiders' long-term gain when it comes to filling their coaching vacancy.

The Giants' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles freed up their assistant coaches for interviews with prospective employers, per league rules. For the Raiders, that means a chance at interviewing offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride right away and not waiting until as late as Feb. 2, the day after the Super Bowl is played.

Raiders managing general partner Al Davis spoke with Gilbride on Jan. 3 by phone. However, senior executive John Herrera termed the encounter a "conversation" and not an interview.

Davis and Gilbride discussed numerous things during their 90-minute conversation, a person familiar with the team's coaching search said. One of them was the "promise" of an in-person interview if the timing worked out.

The timing couldn't be better for Davis and Gilbride. Davis is seeking an answer as to whether it is best to make 2008 interim coach Tom Cable the permanent coach or hire a new coach for the fifth time in six seasons. Gilbride no longer is distracted by the NFL playoffs and is free to do whatever it takes to make an interview a reality.

Gilbride has spent the past two seasons with the Giants and all except one of the past 20 seasons in the NFL in some capacity. He compiled a 6-16 record as the San Diego Chargers coach in 1997-98 in his only stint in that role.

Cable interviewed with Davis last Wednesday. By all accounts, Cable's four-hour interview went well and enhanced his chances of keeping the job he received after Davis fired Lane Kiffin after four games last season.

Even so, Davis isn't allowed to hire a coach until he has satisfied the league's Rooney Rule by interviewing a minority candidate.

Green Bay Packers assistant head coach and linebackers coach Winston Moss and Atlanta Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie are minorities whom Davis is considering for interviews this week.

A CBS report Sunday said Davis also is interested in speaking with former Raiders offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.

Trestman guided the Raiders' league-leading offense in 2002, the last season they posted a winning record. The Raiders also advanced to the Super Bowl that season.

Contact Steve Corkran at scorkran@bayareanewsgroup.com.