Christensen has ties to 49ers' staff

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Clyde Christensen's candidacy as the 49ers' potential offensive coordinator makes sense if we consider his connections to current and former members of the organization.

Christensen, who interviewed for the job Friday, has served as an assistant under Tony Dungy since 1996, starting with the Bucs and continuing with the Colts. The 49ers hired another longtime Dungy assistant, Chris Foerster, to help with their offensive line heading into the 2008 season. And when the 49ers fired head coach Mike Nolan, they also fired Nolan's line coach, George Warhop, at which point Foerster took over the job.

Those two moves -- hiring Foerster to help with the line, then naming him to replace Warhop when Nolan was fired -- tell us plenty. Management clearly was not happy with the coaching of the line during Nolan's tenure. While the 49ers weren't going to force Nolan to fire Warhop, they were going to make a change the minute Nolan no longer worked for the team.

Foerster remains the offensive line coach. In searching for a coordinator, it's logical for the 49ers to consider candidates with ties to the current staff. Christensen and Foerster spent eight seasons together in Tampa Bay and Indianapolis. Those are strong ties.

Side note: Christensen also has ties to retired 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer. They were together in Tampa for years, and they remain close. Dilfer is not part of the hiring process in San Francisco, obviously, but he has consistently spoken highly of Christensen.
When I spoke to Dilfer in 2004 about Peyton Manning's march toward the single-season touchdown record, he said, "It's mind-boggling. I have some insight to what they do offensively because a very good friend of mine is a coach there. He says they are very protection-conscious. Peyton doesn't get hit very often. He's very comfortable and his preparation is meticulous and he has the option to go to any play at any time he wants. When he sees a vulnerability in a defense he's smart enough and gifted enough to take advantage of it."

The 49ers do not have anyone close to Manning's level at quarterback, of course, but any candidate in San Francisco could help his chances by emphasizing the importance of sound pass protection.