San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio walks onto the field before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Eight things to know about new Bears DC Vic Fangio

SHARE Eight things to know about new Bears DC Vic Fangio
SHARE Eight things to know about new Bears DC Vic Fangio

The Bears on Tuesday hired longtime defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to take the same role under new head coach John Fox.

Here are eight things we know about the new Bears defensive coordinator:

1. Fangio has spent 15 years as an NFL defensive coordinator. His performance, as noted in this MMQB article, has drawn rave reviews from Jim Harbaugh, Jim Mora Sr., and others. But Fangio has never been a favorite for a head coaching job and his name rarely gets thrown around to fill openings. He was the first to interview with the 49ers after Harbaugh’s exit, but he was eventually fired instead. Why? That’s unclear, but Bruce Arians recently stumped for Fangio to get a shot as head coach. “He has great knowledge of the game,” Arians said. “I think he has a good rapport with his players. I think that’s the big thing. … I have a lot of respect for him. I think he would do a heck of a job.”

2. The 49ers ranked in the top five in total defense during each of Fangio’s four seasons. They were fourth in 2011, third in 2012 and fifth in 2013 and 2014. The 49ers were also second in points allowed in 2011 and 2012, and ranked third in 2013. The year before Fangio’s arrival, San Francisco ranked 13th in total defense and 16th in points allowed.

3. Fangio is praised for his football acumen and defensive mind, but he hasn’t worked with too many talented defensive units. In the 11 years before his arrival in San Francisco, he’d only once coached a team that ranked better than 10th in total defense. His 1995 Carolina defense finished seventh in total defense and eighth in points allowed. In 1996, Carolina was 10th in total defense and second in points allowed. His next nine years as a defensive coordinator featured defenses that didn’t rank better than 15th in total defense.

4. Fangio began his coaching career in 1979 as the linebackers coach at his alma mater, Dunmore High School in Pennsylvania. Here’s the rest of his resume: Milford Academy Academy (DC), North Carolina (grad assistant), Baltimore/Philadelphia Stars (defensive assistant), New Orleans Saints (linebackers), Carolina Panthers (DC), Indianapolis Colts (DC), Houston Texans (DC), Baltimore Ravens (defensive assistant), Stanford (DC), 49ers (DC).

5. After the 49ers’ 26-21 win over Philadelphia this season, NFL Network analyst and former football coach Brian Billick said Fangio was “the best (defensive coordinator) in the league. Hands down, no contest.”

6. Fangio played for high school football coach Jack Henzes, the second-winningest coach in Pennsylvania high school football history. He’s the reason Fangio became a football coach. “He was a guy (who) was so enthusiastic and passionate about football,” Fangio said. “Growing up, baseball and basketball were my favorite sports, but he was so good that football became contagious to me. I got the coaching bug then. I felt after I left Dunmore that I already could coach in high school because of all that I learned from him. That’s probably a young kid being stupid or brash, but that’s how much confidence I had because he’d been my coach.”

7. The Redskins and Bears were the finalists for Fangio’s services, according to the Washington Post. Washington had requested an interview with him two weeks ago but that request was denied by the 49ers because it was a lateral move. Once Fangio got fired in San Francisco, though, he was able to interview.

8. Fangio was named college football’s defensive coordinator of the year by three different media outlets in 2010 after his lone season at Stanford.

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