The Raiders cut ties with coach Tom Cable on Tuesday, announcing in a news release that they won't pick up the two-year option on his contract.
Cable was two days removed from completing his second full season as the Raiders coach and guiding them to an 8-8 record, their best in eight seasons.
A phone call to Cable was not returned. He posted a 17-27 record during his two-plus seasons as the Raiders coach
Raiders managing general partner Al Davis had until Jan. 17 to decide whether to exercise the two-year, $5 million option on Cable's contract.
That Davis dumped Cable so soon portends his desire to head off other teams from making a play for offensive coordinator Hue Jackson or, perhaps, Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.
The Raiders on Tuesday morning granted the 49ers permission to interview Jackson for their coaching vacancy.
The news of Cable's ouster didn't sit well with Raiders players.
"It was obviously a huge surprise with the progress we made from last year to this year, but I guess the owner made a decision for his reasons," left guard Robert Gallery said. "Our locker room is definitely behind Coach Cable.
"This is going to hit 99 percent of the locker room really hard because people respected how he dealt with us and where we were headed. It's definitely a step back from what we've done going forward the last year or two."
Punter Shane Lechler, one of the two most-tenured Raiders, said he is "in shock" over Cable's firing and "extremely disappointed. This is a huge letdown."
Lechler was one of many players pointed in their support of Cable remaining as the Raiders coach. He said Davis' decision to part ways with Cable will have ramifications on the team's attempt to re-sign some of its 27 prospective free agents.
"I've already had a couple of players call me and say, 'What's going on? We thought he was going to be back,' " Lechler said. "What it does is it's going to influence a lot of guys' decision on free agency. "... You're going to lose Michael Bush now, for sure. You're going to lose a bunch of guys that are great football players, and just because of this move."
Cable was the Raiders offensive line coach in 2007 before taking over for the fired Lane Kiffin on an interim basis four games into the 2008 season. The Raiders delivered the news that Cable was out only minutes after he completed an interview with NFL Sirius Radio in which he talked about his desire to return to the Raiders.
"It's out of my hands," Cable said in an interview with Sirius' Brian McGovern and Marty Schottenheimer. "Make no mistake about it, I want to be head coach of the Oakland Raiders. If that's not to be, by someone else's decision, then I'll be a head coach somewhere else. If not, I'll coach the (offensive) line for somebody, and I can do that pretty darn good. But I want to be the head coach here.
"I just don't have any control over it. We'll see what the future holds and what becomes of it. If not, I've proved that I can be a head coach in this league and succeed and win. It's not always easy, but it's part of the deal "... I've proven that I can handle it and get it done under some tough circumstances."
It's not a stretch to envision more teams seeking interviews with Jackson for the remarkable job he did this season in turning around Oakland's listless offense. The Raiders scored 410 points this season, more than double the 197 they totaled in 2009. They finished second in the NFL in rushing, sixth in scoring and 10th in average yards per game.
Jackson could not be reached for comment. However, he said Dec. 16 that he coveted a head coaching job at some point in his career and wouldn't rule out pursuing one this offseason.
Davis hired Jackson last January and entrusted in him the offense. Cable called the plays the latter part of 2008 and all of 2009.
A person with knowledge of Jackson's interview with Davis said Jackson received high marks and walked away from the process feeling as if he were in line to become the Raiders coach if things didn't pan out with Cable this season.
That remains to be seen. However, it bodes well for Jackson replacing Cable given the timing of Tuesday's events.
Harbaugh coached the Raiders quarterbacks in 2002-03 before leaving for the head coaching job at the University of San Diego. He is fresh from leading Stanford to a 12-1 record and an Orange Bowl victory.
Harbaugh is a hot commodity among NFL and college teams with coaching vacancies.
Staff writer Jerry McDonald contributed to this story.
Go online for a photo slideshow on Tom Cable's coaching career with the Raiders.