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Crennel staying on board

Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will remain with the Patriots.

The Patriots learned on Tuesday that defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will remain with the team for the 2003 season after he was informed of the San Francisco 49ers decision to pursue other options as they continue their head coaching search.

Crennel interviewed for the 49ers head coaching job late last month, but San Francisco elected not to bring the 22-year NFL coaching veteran in for a second round of interviews.

"I am grateful for the experience and opportunity to be involved in the 49ers pursuit of a head coach," Crennel said. "But now, with this situation in the past, all my energy and attention are focused on the improvement and success of our defense here in New England."

Crennel's personal disappointment is unfortunately a gain for the Patriots, who retain a valued assistant coach with in-depth knowledge of Bill Belichick's defensive system.

Crennel recently completed his second season as the Patriots defensive coordinator after spending one year in that role on Chris Palmer's Cleveland Browns staff and he was an instrumental part of the Patriots 2001 world championship season.

Crennel entered the NFL in 1981 as a defensive assistant for the New York Giants, where he remained through 1992, collecting a pair of Super Bowl rings in the process.

He coached defensive linemen for the Patriots from 1993-1996 under Bill Parcells and moved with Parcells to the Jets in 1997 through 1999. He earned his first coordinator job in 2000 with the Browns before joining Bill Belichick's Patriots staff in 2001.

Crennel and Belichick have worked together on the same coaching staff for 16 years of their NFL tenures.

The 49ers opening was Crennel's most substantial chance at landing his first NFL head coaching job.

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