As Bill Walsh built the 49ers' Super Bowl-winning dynasty in the 1980s, Bill Parcells' New York Giants served as a formidable rival.

Walsh's fingerprints are forever on the 49ers' trophy case, and a replica of his office is in the team's museum at Levi's Stadium.

It's Parcells' coaching tree and not Walsh's, however, that could key the 49ers' search for their next Super Bowl-winning coach.

Sean Payton, the potentially available New Orleans Saints coach, and Todd Haley, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator, are logical candidates for the 49ers' vacancy based on their offensive wit and, yes, their link to Parcells.

Trent Baalke, the 49ers' general manager, got his NFL start in 1998 as a scout on the Parcells-coached New York Jets, whose personnel director was Dick Haley, Todd Haley's father.

Lot of dots to connect there, right?

Here's another: Anthony Lynn, who coached on Parcells' final Dallas Cowboys staffs in 2005-06, is setting up an interview this week with the 49ers, ESPN reported. Lynn played for the 49ers in 1995-96, and he's currently the Buffalo Bills assistant head coach.

According to the Miami Herald, Lynn will interview with the Dolphins on Wednesday.


Walsh's legacy isn't being ignored, however, as Mike Shanahan will be interviewed Wednesday, ESPN reported. Shanahan, the 49ers offensive coordinator from 1992-94 under Walsh's successor, George Seifert, was among 10 who interviewed a year ago with Baalke. The Miami Herald reported that Shanahan met with the Dolphins in New York on Tuesday.

Rather than hire an outside firm to help coordinate the search, the 49ers are relying on other avenues, including word-of-mouth from key folks.

"It's well documented that I search out Coach Parcells on a lot of things and will continue to," Baalke said Monday. "I've got great respect for the man and everything he's accomplished in his life."

Baalke respects him so much that, according to Parcells' authorized biography, "Parcells: A Football Life," Baalke "quietly tried to lure" Parcells to become the 49ers coach in 2011 before Jim Harbaugh got hired. Parcells, the book claimed, snuffed out that idea, citing his age (then 69) and long distance from his home in Jupiter, Florida.

When Parcells finished his coaching career with the Cowboys from 2003-06, Payton was his assistant head coach for three seasons (and worked with Lynn in 2005). Payton landed the Saints' job in 2006 and won the Super Bowl three years later. Suspended for 2012 because of the Saints' bounty scandal, Payton returned to direct still one of the NFL's most productive offenses, and he's done so with the ingenuity the 49ers may covet.

Payton wants to either stay in New Orleans or head to the 49ers, according to a Tuesday report by the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Payton has two years remaining on a contract paying him $8 million annually, so the Saints are expected to ask for a draft pick as compensation, reportedly of the second-round stature.

Baalke hasn't worked with Payton but he has been on the same team as Haley, who was an offensive assistant on the Jets when Baalke started as a scout from 1998-2000. Haley got his first head-coaching gig in 2009 with the Kansas City Chiefs, who fired him with a 5-8 mark in 2011.

In the 49ers' road opener this season, Haley directed a Steelers offense that bolted to a 29-3 halftime lead and won 43-18 while racking up 453 yards. Haley won't be available for a sit-down with the 49ers until after Saturday's wild-card playoff game at Cincinnati, which is also the case with Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who is reportedly on the 49ers' radar, too.

Such a timeline means the 49ers' coaching search could drift into next week, when a clearer picture could emerge on whether a Parcells' protege indeed will be picked to resurrect a franchise Walsh put on the map.

"Bill knew when he played against Parcells he was going to get tested," said Mike Shumann, a former 49ers receiver and current ABC7 sports anchor. "I don't think Bill felt that way against many other coaches in the league. He felt he could out-coach others when giving the chance."

Walsh's coaching tree famously has branched off and produced dozens of head coaches, including former 49ers assistants Shanahan and Mike Holmgren, who are now in their 60s but also interested in returning to coach the 49ers.

Former 49ers offensive lineman Randy Cross is hoping for a Walsh disciple, not a Parcells product, to land the job. Cross tweeted: "For my old team, the 49ers, I hope their choice for HC can check all the boxes AND has the rings in the resume. To me that's Mike Shanahan."

  • Colin Kaepernick will undergo surgery Wednesday for a thumb injury he sustained in his penultimate start with the 49ers on Oct. 22, a source said. Kaepernick is in Vail, Colorado, to have not only the torn ligament repaired in his thumb but also to have other injuries examined, including his surgically repaired left shoulder and issues with his left knee.

    Kaepernick injured his thumb in a 20-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, during which he got sacked six times. A bandage was wrapped around his swollen thumb at his postgame news conference, and he described the injury at the time as: "Just some swelling."

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