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Sources: Falcons hire Mora Jr. as head coach

Updated: Thursday January 8, 2004 9:02PM
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By Don Banks, SI.com

  Jim Mora Jr.
Fellow coaches believe Jim Mora Jr. will take advantage of many of the same attributes that made his father successful.
SI.com

The Atlanta Falcons are preparing to announce that they've hired San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Jim Mora Jr. as their new head coach, three league sources said Thursday.

Mora is putting together his staff, and already has asked permission of the 49ers to hire San Francisco offensive line coach Pat Morris. In addition, the 49ers have granted Mora permission to take offensive coordinator Greg Knapp with him to Atlanta.

While the Falcons aren't confirming Mora's hiring, Mora is still in Atlanta and is putting the finishing touches on a contract to become the successor to the fired Dan Reeves, a source close to Mora said.

Mora received two interviews from the Falcons, but he was considered a longshot candidate who was rated behind the presumed front-runner, Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith.

Smith interviewed last week with Atlanta, but because St. Louis remains involved in the NFL playoffs, he could have no further contact with the Falcons.

Atlanta becomes the fourth team this week to fill their head coaching vacancy. The Giants tapped Tom Coughlin on Tuesday, and Arizona's Dennis Green and Washington's Joe Gibbs were in place as of Wednesday.

Mora, the son of former Saints and Colts head coach Jim Mora, is the only first-time NFL coach hired thus far this offseason.

Falcons Head Coaches
Coach Years Rec. Pct.
Wade Phillips 2003 2-1 .667
Dan Reeves 1997-03 49-59-1 .484
June Jones 1994-96 19-29 .396
Jerry Glanville 1990-93 28-38 .424
Jim Hanifan 1989 0-4 .000
Dan Henning 1983-86 22-41-1 .352
Leeman Bennett 1977-82 47-44 .516
Pat Peppler 1976 3-6 .333
Marion Campbell 1974-76, '87-89 17-51 .250
Norm Van Brocklin 1968-74 37-49-3 .433
Norb Hecker 1966-68 4-26-1 .145

His peers in the league believe that Mora, 42, has many of the same traits as his father, who took New Orleans and Indianapolis to the playoffs. He is an intelligent, loquacious, but serious man who has his players' respect and is known for putting them in position to win.

Most people felt it was only a matter of time before Mora got an NFL head coaching job. But the fact that he got it after a rather disappointing 49ers season (7-9) rates along with Gibbs' hiring as the surprise of the offseason.

"They like my enthusiasm and my passion,'' said Mora earlier this week, of his candidacy in Atlanta. "They know my players play for me. I'm excited about Atlanta, because they seem to be excited about me.''

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