Jaguars to fire Gene Smith, Mike Mularkey’s future unclear

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Much remains uncertain about the future of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but owner Shad Khan appears to have already made one major decision: General Manager Gene Smith is out.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Jacksonville will fire Smith. After that, the fate of head coach Mike Mularkey will be decided by Smith’s replacement.

So who will be Smith’s replacement? Schefter reports that Cardinals director of player personnel Jason Licht and 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble are the top candidates.

Realistically, it seems unlikely that a new general manager would decide to keep Mularkey. When new general managers come in, they usually want to bring in their own head coaches, not keep a head coach coming off a miserable season. And Schefter notes that both G.M. candidates in Jacksonville have ties to coaches who could be contenders to replace Mularkey: Licht has ties to Penn State coach Bill O’Brien and soon-to-be-former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, and Gamble has ties to 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

Once the new coach is in place, the new general manager will turn his attention to rebuilding Jacksonville’s roster. The good news for whoever is calling the shots is that the Jaguars will have either the first or second pick in the 2013 NFL draft.