Stefanski 'focused on 49ers' as reported interview with Cleveland Browns awaits

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski looks on in the fourth quarter during a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 20, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. ((Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images))

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski says he’s staying focused on the San Francisco 49ers this week, despite reports that he’s interviewing for the head coaching job in Cleveland on Thursday.

Stefanski was a finalist for the position last year, before the Browns opted to promote Freddie Kitchens. After a 6-10 season for the Browns, Kitchens was fired. Stefanksi had also been mentioned for the Carolina Panthers opening, but they opted to go the college route with Matt Rhule from Baylor.

It's not clear when or where Stefanski’s interview with the Browns will take place, other than reports that indicate it will be Thursday.

“I’d prefer to just keep the focus on what we’re doing with San Francisco, our players and really not worry about any periphery right now,” Stefanski said after Wednesday’s practice.

It’s interesting timing for Stefanski to do such an interview. The Vikings are on a short week, after winning in overtime at New Orleans on Sunday, and have to travel to the West Coast early with a Saturday afternoon game at San Francisco.

“There’s a lot to focus on this week and I’d like to keep it on the 49ers,” Stefanski said.

Stefanski put the ball in the hands of his $84 million quarterback, Kirk Cousins, with the season on the line in overtime against the Saints. The Vikings got the ball after defensive captain Everson Griffen won the coin toss.

After trying to run out the clock in regulation and allowing the Saints to score 10 straight points to force overtime, Stefanski got aggressive. Dalvin Cook ran for a first down, then Cousins hit Stefon Diggs for a 10-yard gain on a crucial third-and-1. Cousins took a deep shot to Adam Thielen for 43 yards down to the Saints’ 2-yard line.

It set up Cousins hitting Rudolph for the game-winner on third-and-goal from the 4-yard line. With the season on the line, Cousins went to this three most veteran receivers.

“I think that drive, just credit to the players. Diggsy makes a big play on third down, Adam and Kirk make a great play and then Kyle makes a great play. Dalvin had a big run there to get us a first down, so I think that drive was indicative of our players making a ton of plays in a big moment,” Stefanski said.

It’s a sequence that might ultimately get Stefanski, who’s made his way up the coaching ladder with the Vikings, into his first head coaching gig.