Hostler, a former 49ers offensive coordinator who also served as Ravens wide receivers coach for six seasons, is at least the third candidate to visit this week, joining New York Jets-bound Chan Gailey and former Bears coach Marc Trestman.
Hostler was coordinator for one year with the 49ers as part of the Mike Nolan regime. The 49ers failed to score more than 20 points in all but two games that year.
Easily the Browns' most experienced candidate is Trestman, who was in the building Wednesday, but Trestman also got a call from new Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, who might want to hire him. The Raiders have a promising quarterback in Derek Carr. Trestman's two-year stint in Chicago fizzled, but he's known as a stout playcaller who's good with managing quarterbacks. (Josh McCown threw for 13 touchdowns to one interception for Trestman in 2013.)
If the Browns let Trestman walk, who's the backup plan? Position coaches won't elicit excitement among Browns fans who just watched a lot of bad offense in November and December.
Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn seems like a strong candidate. The Jets finished third in the NFL in rushing last year, and the Jaguars also reportedly want to interview Lynn.
Pettine seems to be drawing on familiar faces from his Bills/Ravens/Jets days. The Browns will make clear soon enough whether those interviews produced a new coordinator or a bunch of talking.
Whoever takes the job will have a challenge -- mold Johnny Manziel (or a new quarterback) into a winner, or else lame-duck status awaits.