Broncos’ players believe Adam Gase would be a good head coach
Trent Baalke might have driven Jim Harbaugh back to college, but he doesn’t scare Adam Gase.
Baalke and Gase worked together with the San Francisco 49ers in 2008. Baalke is now the 49ers’ general manager and is searching for a new head coach. Gase is the Broncos’ highly successful offensive coordinator who will interview with Baalke for the 49ers’ top coaching job later this week.
Gase, 36, is a hot assistant coach who is a top candidate to fill the head coaching void in San Francisco or Atlanta.
Per NFL rules, the Broncos are allowing Gase to interview for head coaching jobs so long as contingents from San Francisco and Atlanta meet with him in Denver while the team is not practicing during its first-round playoff bye week.
Gase probably will interview Friday and Saturday for the head coaching positions.
“We’ve been through this many times,” said Broncos coach John Fox. “It will be done in a way that they have to come here, and it won’t bother our coaches as far as their prep. All their focus is on what we’re trying to accomplish. Yet, during the bye week, it’s an opportunity to do those things.”
Once the Broncos’ players return Sunday for light conditioning work and meetings in preparation for the second-round playoff game Jan. 11, Gase is off limits to others until Denver’s playoff run is finished, or the bye week between the AFC championship game and Super Bowl, should the team make it that far.
In Gase’s two years as Denver’s offensive coordinator, the Broncos ranked No. 1 in scoring in 2013 by compiling an NFL-record 606 points (37.9 points per game), mostly by throwing the ball with quarterback Peyton Manning.
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This year, the Broncos implemented an older-school running game into their offense, starting in Game 11, and they still finished No. 2 in scoring at 30.1 points per game.
Gase will finish this season with the Broncos, but he might have options once it is finished.
“Of course he has what it takes,” Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “Whatever happens, he’ll do what’s best for him and his family. If he does, that would be sad for me, but we’ve still got goals that we want to achieve together. Hopefully if it does happen, he’ll go to one of those jobs with a Super Bowl ring on his finger.”
Which of the two jobs, San Francisco’s or Atlanta’s, would be most appealing to Gase? Each has shown a potential red flag in upper management. The 49ers, with Baalke and owner Jed York, ran off Harbaugh, who turned around a franchise that had eight consecutive nonwinning seasons into one that went to three consecutive NFC championship games.
Harbaugh is expected to be announced as the new head coach at the University of Michigan on Tuesday.
Gase, though, was an offensive assistant to San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike Martz in 2008, which was Baalke’s first year as the 49ers’ director of player personnel.
In Atlanta, general manager Thomas Dimitroff is staying on amid reports his power in personnel decisions will be reduced.
On balance, the 49ers appear to have a more talented roster than the Falcons. Another consideration is the respective quarterbacks. Would Gase believe it’s easier to win the Super Bowl with Atlanta’s Matt Ryan or with the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick?
Ryan is limited physically but is closer in style to Manning. Kaepernick’s athleticism is unmatched, but his passing accuracy is erratic.
“I know whoever gets him, they’re going to get a coach who is very smart,” running back C.J. Anderson said. “He knows the game very well. He’s determined. He has that ‘(heck with) you’ attitude. Let’s get out there and get it done. He’s the type that puts his hard hat on every day and goes to work.”
Would the courtship of Gase be a distraction to the Broncos’ offensive players?
“I don’t think so,” Sanders said, “as long as you guys keep it down.”
Meanwhile, no team has asked the Broncos for permission to interview defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. The Oakland Raiders figure to be interested at some point, although they historically wait longer than other teams in filling their head coaching vacancies.