When the San Francisco 49ers opted to go in another direction as they released secondary coach Ed Donatell from his contract, it caught many Forever Faithful off-guard. A coach that helped turnaround a shaky secondary in 2010, as they ranked 24th against the pass while allowing 25 touchdowns in the process, Donatell quickly turned around those rankings as the unit became one of the league’s best under his tutelage–evident by ranking in the top 10 the last three seasons.
However, with the 49ers now doing their due diligence as they try and find Donatell’s successor, one name that continues to swirl around Levi’s Stadium is former New York Giants DC Perry Fewell. But the question remains, why?
The answer may be in large part to 49ers’ Hall of Fame DB Ronnie Lott.
Lott, who annually visits Lenoir-Rhyne, a Division II college, helped Fewell get his big break in the NFL with an internship. “There’s a guy that comes here annually, that helped me get into the National Football League named Ronnie Lott,” Fewell told Lenoir-Rhyne student-athletes after watching them practice in 2012.
Fewell went on to talk a little about the internship:
“He would have coaches come into San Francisco and learn about the West Coast system, learn about coaching, learn about coaching techniques, and then just meeting people.”
Lott, who also sponsors Lenoir-Rhyne’s weekly “Heavy-hitter Award,” a weekly philanthropic award given to the standout Lenoir-Rhyne player who best exemplifies Lott’s on-field skill-set–Lott continues to be a huge Bears supporter.
Lott spoke about the award and what it means. “It represents making an impact,” Lott said. “When you think about making an impact it could be a lot of different things in the game.”
Each time the award is given, $1,000 is donated to Habitat for Humanity in Catawba County in the winning player’s name. Did I just say Catawba? Yes, the college that 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula attended as a player from 1987-1990.
And with Lenoir-Rhyne and Catawba being rivals that whole ‘stability’ and ‘continuity’ talk would be fitting considering both Fewell and Tomsula went to schools just 20 minutes away from each other. How many NFL players or coaches do you know attended these Division II schools? Not many. Making Fewell a logical choice.
With the 49ers trying to field the best coaching staff possible, I can’t help but think that Fewell will get the secondary job as Lott helped him from the start while having similar ties to Tomsula dating back to their college playing days.