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Former St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan is no stranger to replacing Mike Martz. He did it with the Rams, and he appears to be close to entering the same situation with the 49ers.

Linehan was offered the job to become the 49ers? seventh offensive coordinator in seven seasons Thursday night, according to sources. He was expected to meet with his family before informing the 49ers of his decision.

Linehan, 45, had his second interview in a week with coach Mike Singletary and general manager Scot McCloughan at the team?s offices in Santa Clara on Thursday.

Rob Chudzinski, Rick Dennison and Clyde Christensen have also interviewed for the offensive-coordinator position.

Linehan emerged from the group as the front-runner to replace Martz, whom Singletary fired on Dec. 30. Singletary said he wants an offensive coordinator to help him establish a powerful running attack.

When the Rams fired Martz as head coach after the 2005 season, Linehan took over. Linehan was fired after four games last season with the Rams. His record as head coach was 11-25.

Linehan enjoyed success as offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings for three seasons and the Miami Dolphins in 2005 before landing his first head-coaching job. The Vikings ranked second, first and fourth in the NFL in total offense during his tenure. The Dolphins were ranked 29th in the NFL before his arrival and went to No. 14 in his only season.

Linehan has a history with 49ers quarterbacks Alex Smith and Shaun Hill.

In fact, as Dolphins offensive coordinator, he was hopeful the 49ers would pass on Smith with the No. 1 overall pick. The Dolphins owned the second selection that year.

?I (didn?t) make the pick, but I was hoping,? Linehan said in 2007 before the Rams faced the 49ers. ?I had a pretty good idea that San Francisco was going to take him. And now we have to play against the turkey.?

Linehan and Smith have known each other since Smith was in grade school.

Smith?s uncle, John L. Smith, hired Linehan as Idaho wide receivers coach in 1989. Linehan eventually served as offensive coordinator on Smith?s staffs at Idaho and Louisville.

With Linehan on the staff, it might make Smith?s return next season more likely.

Smith?s future with the 49ers is in question because of his scheduled $9.25 million base salary in 2009. If the 49ers decide they want him back, Smith will have to accept a sizeable pay cut to return for a fifth season with the club.

Hill will definitely be back next season, but Singletary has yet to say whether it will be in a starting role. Hill?s record is 7-3 as the starter the past two seasons.

Hill was on the Vikings? roster all three seasons of Linehan?s tenure as offensive coordinator. However, Hill did not see any game action during the regular season.

NINERS CUT POSITIONS

The 49ers are in the process of cutting ?a handful? of jobs on the business side, vice president of communications Elisabeth Lang said. However, she said there will actually be a net gain in total 49ers employees.

Lang said there is a restructuring of a number of departments and a consolidation of certain roles. The team will have a ?newly expanded ticket sales and fan services operation,? she said.

The 49ers have in the neighborhood of 110 to 120 employees on the business side of the organization, Lang said. That number will increase after the restructuring of the departments.

Recently, the 49ers consolidated the public relations department to combine the titles of director of public relations and director of public relations operations into one position, thus eliminating Aaron Salkin?s job as director of PR. The layoffs will not affect the football operations side of the organization, Lang said.

For more on the Niners, go to Instant 49ers at blog.pressdemocrat.com/49ers. You can reach Staff Writer Matt Maiocco at 521-5492 or matt.maiocco@press

democrat.com.