SANTA CLARA — Greg Roman, the 49ers' offensive coordinator, interviewed Monday in Chicago to become Penn State's next coach, ESPN reported Wednesday.

Roman was a finalist two years ago to replace Joe Paterno before the post went to Bill O'Brien, who last week was hired as the Houston Texans coach.

Roman has been the 49ers coordinator since Jim Harbaugh arrived as coach in 2011. Harbaugh declined to discuss the job prospects for Roman or other assistants, including Paul Wulff, who reportedly will become the University of South Florida's offensive coordinator, according to Scout.com.

"I know our people, so their focus is right here on this game," Harbaugh said of Sunday's divisional-round playoff game at Carolina.

49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman is among the candidates to become the new Penn State football coach, according to a report.
49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman is among the candidates to become the new Penn State football coach, according to a report. (Gary Reyes / San Jose Mercury News file)

Roman reportedly has also drawn interest for the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings' head-coaching vacancies.

Scout.com reported Tuesday that Roman did not return on the 49ers' flight home from Green Bay so he could stay behind and interview for an unspecified head-coaching job.

"I can think of all the head jobs that are out there, and those teams would be lucky to have Greg Roman and I can think of other assistants," Harbaugh said.

During his first season as the 49ers offensive coordinator in 2011, Roman conducted a phone interview with Penn State officials. He told a radio station in his native New Jersey that Penn State would be a "lifetime job" despite the program's turmoil from former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky's child-abuse crimes.

"I've coached in college at Stanford and in the pros for 14 years in the NFL, so it's more about the individual opportunity, the people you're surrounding yourself with," Roman said two years ago in an interview with 97.3 ESPN in New Jersey. "And a job like Penn State is a lifetime job. That's a job if I were to become the head coach there, I'd wouldn't leave there. I'd be back East, setting up camp, I'd be at the (Jersey) Shore in the summer. And that would be my routine."

Vanderbilt's James Franklin is reportedly the frontrunner to become the Penn State coach.

Harbaugh confirmed Monday that several of his assistants are being courted by potential suitors to become first-time head coaches, including defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. The Washington Post has reported that Fangio and Roman are among those being considered by the Redskins, who are also interested in Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and several other candidates.

For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.