SANTA CLARA (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers interviewed Buffalo Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn on Wednesday for their head coach opening.
Lynn is the first candidate to interview with the Niners as they begin the process of finding the replacement for Chip Kelly, who was fired after one season on Sunday. San Francisco also fired general manager Trent Baalke and is looking to fill that spot as well.
CEO Jed York said earlier in the week that he was open to hiring the head coach or the general manager first and that the key issue was finding two people who can work closely together in those roles.
Lynn is also considered the front-runner for the job in Buffalo. A person with direct knowledge of the Bills coaching search told The Associated Press that the team is scheduled to interview Lynn on Thursday. The person spoke to the AP on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because the team has not revealed its interview schedule. The Bills do announce who they’re interviewing once the meeting is taking place.
On Wednesday, the Bills said Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was the first to interview for the job.
Lynn was promoted to interim coach last week after Rex Ryan was fired, and he coached the Bills in a 30-10 season-ending loss at the New York Jets. He began the season as Buffalo’s running backs coach before being elevated to offensive coordinator in September when Greg Roman was fired after an 0-2 start.
Bills owner Terry Pegula told the AP on Monday that Lynn was a candidate for the job but not “a lock.”
Lynn oversaw an offense that led the NFL in yards rushing for a second consecutive season.
Lynn split a six-year NFL career between Denver and San Francisco in the 1990s, and then broke into the coaching ranks in 2000 as a Broncos offensive and special teams assistant. Lynn then served as running backs coach in Jacksonville, Dallas and Cleveland before being hired to Ryan’s staff with the New York Jets in 2009.
Lynn previously interviewed for both the head coaching and offensive coordinator jobs in San Francisco last offseason.
San Francisco has had three coaches in the past three seasons, having let go of Jim Harbaugh following an 8-8 record in 2014 and then firing Jim Tomsula after a 5-11 season and Kelly after the team matched the worst record in franchise history at 2-14.
The Niners became the first team in nearly four decades to fire coaches in successive seasons after only one-year tenures. The only other time that happened since the 1970 merger came when San Francisco fired Monte Clark after the 1976 season and Ken Meyer the following year. The 49ers then fired Pete McCulley midway through the 1978 season and interim coach Fred O’Connor after the year before hiring Bill Walsh to start a dynasty.
The 49ers have also been linked to New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay, Miami defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and McDermott as possible head coach candidates.