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Houston Texans

Gruden, Nolan coach in Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. (AP)-- Coaching staffs from the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers will coach the two squads of top NFL draft prospects which will participate in the 58th annual Under Armour Senior Bowl.

Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden and his entire Bucs staff will coach the Senior Bowl's North team, while 49ers head coach Mike Nolan and his staff will handle coaching duties for the South squad in the Jan. 27, 2007, contest in Mobile's Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Through the Senior Bowl's working agreement with the National Football League, the NFL office selects coaching staffs for the contest each year.

"We are extremely excited about the opportunity to work with and coach the nation's elite senior players," said Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen. "The Senior Bowl staff and city of Mobile do an outstanding job of putting on this premier sporting event and we are anxious to be a part of it."

Both Gruden and Nolan have extensive Senior Bowl coaching experience, with Gruden and his Bucs staff previously serving as the coaches for the South team in 2005. In 1999, Gruden and his Oakland Raiders coaching staff coached the Senior Bowl's North team.

Nolan and the 49ers staff will be making their second straight Senior Bowl coaching appearance, after serving in that capacity for the South team in last year's event. Nolan also served as an assistant coach in the contest on four occasions, most recently while as defensive coordinator of the Redskins in 1998.

"I think coaching the Senior Bowl is a great opportunity and a blessing for the entire San Francisco 49ers organization," Nolan said. "It's the best way to evaluate players that I've come to know. I think it's an exciting game, and it's an exciting bunch of players. Ninety-five or 100 percent of the players make a team in the NFL, so that's huge."

In addition to their coaching staffs, both the Bucs and 49ers will be bringing their training, video and equipment staffs to Mobile to maximize the many benefits that the players will receive through their participation in the Senior Bowl.

Nolan recently completed his second season as head coach of the 49ers, as the team improved from a 4-12 mark in 2005 to a 7-9 record this season and narrowly missed the playoffs in the NFC.

Named the 15th head coach in team history on Jan. 19, 2005, he joined the 49ers following a distinguished 17-year career as an NFL assistant, most recently as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

"For us to have an opportunity to coach those guys and evaluate them first-hand in meetings, get to know them, eat with them and do all those things for an entire week puts us one up in the evaluation process," Nolan said.

Named the seventh head coach in Buccaneers history on Feb. 18, 2002, Gruden led Tampa Bay to its first Super Bowl title in his first season as head coach later that year. He also became the youngest head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl, and he was the first veteran head coach in the history of the NFL to lead his team to the Super Bowl in his first season with a new team.

Prior to joining the Bucs, he guided the Raiders to division titles in each of his final two seasons as head coach and steered the Raiders to a 40-28 mark in four seasons (1998-2001). Under Gruden, the Raiders advanced to the AFC title game in 2000 and lost in 2001 in a divisional playoff game to eventual Super Bowl champion New England.

The Senior Bowl is the nation's most unique football game and football's premier pre-draft event, annually featuring the country's best senior collegiate football stars and top NFL draft prospects on teams representing the North and South which are coached by the entire coaching staffs from two NFL teams.

Senior Bowl practices are also attended by over 700 general managers, head coaches, assistant coaches, scouts and other front office personnel from the 32 NFL teams, making Mobile and the Senior Bowl the weeklong host to a one-of-a-kind NFL Coaches Convention.

The 2007 Under Armour Senior Bowl will kickoff at 3 p.m. on Jan. 27, and the game and its practice sessions will be nationally-televised by the NFL Network.

For more information, access the bowl's website at

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