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Bears QBs coach Matt Cavanaugh on Jay Cutler: Opine-and-shut case

Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh (left) had deal with Tim Tebow circus New York as Jets’ QBs coach. | Wade

Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh (left) had to deal with the Tim Tebow circus in New York as the Jets’ QBs coach. | Wade Payne~AP

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Updated: March 18, 2013 6:56AM

Since they worked together in San Francisco 17 years ago, Marc Trestman and Matt Cavanaugh kept in touch, catching up at the NFL Scouting Combine or at the Senior Bowl, even chatting on the phone once in a while.

But in recent years, when Trestman was in Montreal and Cavanaugh in New York, they lost touch.

Until Trestman was hired as the Bears’ coach, and he contacted Cavanaugh — fired as the Jets’ quarterbacks coach — to join him in Chicago as his quarterbacks coach.

“I was happy when he reached out,” Cavanaugh recalled. “I’m thrilled to have a chance to work with him again.”

The 49ers were 12-4 in 1996, when Trestman was the offensive coordinator of a Steve Young-led unit that ranked third in points and sixth in yards. All these years later, Trestman and Cavanaugh still speak the same language and rely on the same fundamentals and reads.

“It takes some of the burden off of having to learn it,” Cavanaugh said. “I’ll need to refresh. I know there are tweaks. There’s a lot of things that are similar and a lot of carryover, and I’m excited about that.”

They’re already on the same page on one thing: evasive answers regarding quarterback Jay Cutler.

Trestman and Cavanaugh have avoided commenting on Cutler’s mechanics or even saying he’s a franchise player.

“I think anybody who’s starting in this league, you hope they’re a franchise quarterback,’’ Cavanaugh said. ‘‘He’s got all the ability. But let us spend some time. I’ve seen him from afar. I want to work with him.

“He’s got a ton of talent, and I know you can win a lot of games with him.”

Cavanaugh only briefly visited with Cutler, and he insisted on holding off on commenting too extensively about him.

“I’m just going to wait,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s too early to give an evaluation. I don’t think it’s fair to not get to know the person, not to work with him personally, and base everything you want to say on film.

“I think there’s more to players than that. We’ve decided that we’re going to wait.”

This, of course, isn’t Cavanaugh’s first stint with the Bears.

He was the offensive coordinator in 1997 and 1998, but his units finished 28th and 25th in points and 17th and 21st in yards. He landed with the Ravens — with Trent Dilfer at quarterback — and helped them win Super Bowl XXXV. Since 2009, he had been the Jets’ quarterbacks coach.

The Jets went to back-to-back AFC title games, but quarterback Mark Sanchez clearly hasn’t justified being the fifth overall choice in 2009.

“Every year you think you know it all, then you find when the year is over that you don’t know anything,” Cavanaugh said. “I’ve been a part of teams that won a lot of games and a part of teams that lost a lot of games. And you better learn something from each experience.”

The 2012 Jets were a soap opera starring Sanchez and Tim Tebow. Cavanaugh said the Jets never gave Tebow enough opportunities, and he warned that, despite Cutler’s mobility, the Bears shouldn’t just decide to run more option plays.

“I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that, ‘Yeah, he’s athletic, and we can do some of that with him,’ ’’ Cavanaugh said. ‘‘But let us evaluate him and see how he fits what we want to do and how we can expand on that.’’

Cavanaugh doesn’t want to focus too much on Cutler or any position.

“We’re going to evaluate all these guys,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re going to have a team environment with a lot of focus on, ‘I’m going to do what’s best for our team.’ And that’s going to permeate every position on the field, not just Jay’s.”

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