Leavitt joins 49ers: What they're saying
It's been ages since I did a links post on here, but with Wednesday's news of Jim Leavitt officially joining the 49ers as linebackers coach, it's interesting to see the different perspectives on the hire. It's bigger news here in Tampa than anywhere else, because he's so well-known here. That's part of what Times columnist Gary Shelton wrote in today's paper -- the anonymity of his new job is a good thing as he starts his coaching career anew:
Most of all, Leavitt gets to stay in the background and coach.
They are an invisible lot, linebacker coaches. Put it this way: Do you know who Keith Butler is? Bob Babich? Jeff Weeks and Bob Sutton? The slightly more familiar Kevin Greene and Winston Moss?
Those are the linebacker coaches for the teams in this week's conference championship games (for Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York Jets and Green Bay, in that order). Yeah, it's a background job, all right.
-- How big was the Leavitt news on the 49ers end? The main newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, has Leavittt lumped in with the other two assistants announced Wednesday. It's just a bullet on their main sports page, under a larger Raiders story. Keep in mind that Harbaugh hasn't commented on the hires -- they'll do more when he can address his staff and the assistants can talk, presuming they're allowed to. They boil his firing down to a succinct sentence: "He was fired after a physical altercation with a player but won a $2.75 million settlement from the school."
-- The Sacramento Bee doesn't have Leavitt's name in the headline, but he gets the picture and most of the story on the three hires. They explained the locker-room incident as "he choke and struck," which is a bit strong, even by the investigation's findings. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat gives Leavitt more prominent play, even quoting from our story last week on his background with the Harbaughs and the 49ers.
-- Leavitt's hiring meant an end to Kansas State fans hoping he was headed back to Manhattan as an assistant under Bill Snyder and coach-in-waiting. Leavitt said more to the Topeka Capital-Journal than he did to us last night -- of his conversations with Snyder, he told the paper that "we always talked about the possibility, but nothing ever official. We never talked about salaries or anything."
-- Leavitt has checked out the 49ers' roster and saw some familiar names -- one of the linebackers he'll be coaching is former Pitt standout Scott McKillop, who had some great games against Leavitt's USF teams. Another is Manny Lawson, who was part of the talented N.C. State defense that shut USF out in the first Meineke Car Care Bowl. There's also former Rutgers tackle Anthony Davis, and Leavitt remembers recruiting defensive tackle Ray McDonald, who played at Florida, out of Belle Glade in high school.
-- While I'm linking, the Orlando Sentinel's Chris Hays has a good writeup on USF commitment Andre Davis, who said the Bulls were his top choice all along. I think Davis' enthusiasm for USF could help the Bulls land two other Tampa targets in Robinson's Ruben Gonzalez and Armwood's Josh Grady, who also visited campus this past weekend.
-- The Kansas City Star profiles new Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger, who talks about his brief time at USF on Leavitt's original staff.