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Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson among top head coaching candidates, interest could come from San Francisco and Cleveland

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Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was a candidate in Buffalo last year. Interest in Jackson could increase this year with speculative interest in San Francisco and Cleveland.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Assistant coaches on non-playoff teams and coaches enjoying a first-round bye, are allowed to interview for head coaching positions that are vacating around the league. The Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants and Tennessee Titans are looking for new head coaches, while the Indianapolis Colts are expected to axe Chuck Pagano, and uncertainty remains in New Orleans.

San Francisco, who fired Jim Tomsula on Sunday after only one season, is among the teams looking for a new head coach. Don't be surprised if interest eventually lands near Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, a former head coach in Oakland. During a SportsCenter segment on Monday, Adam Schefter mentioned Jackson as a potential candidate in San Francisco -- though the comment appeared to be a conjecture.

However, there's precedence.

Jackson is extremely familiar with the west coast, initiating his coaching career at Pacific (his alma mater) with stints at Cal State Fullerton, Arizona State, the University of California and the University of Southern California before upgrading into the NFL. Jackson, who returned to Cincinnati as an assistant defensive backs and special teams coach in 2012, was significantly considered for the vacant head coaching position at the University of California, who had fired Jeff Tedford. Jackson called it a "golden opportunity" at the time (three years ago).

Jackson, at the time an offensive coordinator for the Oakland Raidersinterviewed with the 49ers on Jan. 5, 2011 for their vacant head coaching position that Jim Harbaugh eventually accepted. Regardless, Al Davis fired Tom Cable and promoted Jackson as his head coach. Unfortunately (and unexpectedly), Jackson was fired a year later as Oakland made significant front office changes (largely due to the death of Davis), starting with GM Reggie McKenzie, who wanted his own head coach. Dennis Allen would win eight games over two seasons, the same amount that Jackson won in one season with the team, 2011.

Whether or not Jackson generates interest with the 49ers (or anyone else) this year is inconsequential for the Bengals, at least in regards to the playoffs. Jackson, who believed he was a shoe-in for the Buffalo Bills before Rex Ryan showed up, was extraordinarily cautious about showing interest until it was obvious that it wouldn't impact Cincinnati's postseason ambitions.

However, if the 49ers hire Jackson, the Bengals will need to find their third offensive coordinator in four years as quarterback Andy Dalton enters his sixth season. Running backs coach Kyle Caskey, who has coached under former offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and Jackson, might have an advantage as he'd stabilize an already integrated system. Wide receivers coach James Urban and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese could benefit but at this stage, don't be surprised if the Bengals look outside the organization. They've done it before.

San Francisco isn't the only team interested in Jackson either.

According to NFL Media's Rand Getlin, the Cleveland Browns are expressing interest, but are not allowed to schedule an interview until after Wild Card weekend. Cleveland has already scheduled interviews with Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line coach Doug Marrone and Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

Also according to reports, former head coaches Mike Shanahan and Chip Kelly have expressed interest in the San Francisco job and Sean Peyton has been connected to the vacancy.