Pete McCulley, receivers coach for the Washington Redskins was named head coach of the San Francisco 49ers yesterday, succeeding Ken Meyer, who was fired earlier in the day.

McCulley's appointment came on a day when two other head coaching positions in the National Football League came in for heavy speculation.

In St. Louis, Cardinal coach Don Coryell failed to show up for a scheduled meeting with club owner Bill Bidwill and flew to Los Angeles, presumably to talk with Rams' officials about coaching that team. Chuck Know now coaches Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, in Detroit, it was reported by United Press International that Monte Clark, who once gave up his 49er job rather than lose any power as coach, has agreed in principle to become the fifthman to coach the Lions in the past 10 years.

McCulley was considered for the 49er job before Meyer was hired to replace Clark, who resigned in a power struggle with general manager Joe Thomas.

Thomas engaged McCulley to coach thee receivers and direct the conditioning program of the Baltimore Colts in 1973. When Thomas was fired by the Colts, after losing another power battle with coach Ted Marchibrods, McCulley also was dropped.

McCulley caught on with the Redskins on Feb. 4, before Thomas lost Clark at San francisco. Thomas said at the time that he wanted to talk to McCulley about the 49ers' job but could not get permission from head coach George Allen in time to meet the emergency at San Francisco.

McCulley was a quarterback at Lousiana Tech before going into coaching at Stephen A. Austin, the University of Houston, Baylon, and the Naval Academy.

He was an assistant coach to Thomas and then to Marchibroda at Baltimore for three seasons, through 1976.

A spokesman for Allen said that Allen had recommended McCulley for the job this time and had given him permission to talk with the 49ers. Allen had no comment concerning a replacement for Mcculley here.

McCulley becomes the 10th assistant coach under Allen here and in Los Angeles to become an NFL head coach. He will be the sixth active one.

McCulley, a resident of Annapolis, has two children, a 20-year-old son, Kit, who played for Navy last season and an 18-year-old daughter, Kim.

Meyer was brought in as head coach by Thomas and owner Edward J. Debartolo Jr. after Debartolo purchased the team, and led the National Football League club to a disappointing 5-9 record last season. All of Meyer's assistants were also fired.

In his only year as head coach, Clark led the 49ers to an 8-6 season.

Coryell flew to Los Angeles on a trip presumably unknown in advance by his employers and was whisked away by Ram general manager Don Klosterman to a meeting Klosterman termed a courtesy.

Coryell, who said he was invited to Los Angeles by Klosterman for a visit, remarked on his arrival that he is interested in the Ram's job if it is offered and if St. Louis owner William V. Bidwell will release him from a contract that extends through the 1980 season.

Knox was quoted as saying he would not leave the Rams voluntarily. Only a week ago he signed a new, five-year contract.

Deeping the mystery was a Klosterman statement that he would meet later in the week with Knox.

"We want to talk with Chuck and find out if there is someplace else he wants to go," the general manager told the Associated Press.

In St. Louis, Bidwell said Coryell was to have met with him this morning but didn't. Later Bidwill issued a statement:

"There will be no further meeting between Don Coryell and myself. Any further discussions that Coryell has regarding operations will be held with director of operations Joe Sullivan.

The St. Louis management denied knowledge of a West Coast trip by their coach.

The REdskins' Allen, former Rams' coach, has been mentioned as a possible successor to Knox, as has Clark, Bill Walsh of Stanford, and Don James of the Rose Bowl champion Washington Huskies -- who erased his part in the rumors by signing a long-term contract with the university last week.

Knox has been criticized as having a lack of imagination on offense, although his clubs have been at or near the top of the heap in yardage gained and points scored, and his club was 10-4 this past season.

The Cardinals' Bidwill said Coryell and he had met for 25 minutes Monday, labeling the session one designed to lay ground rules for further examination of club policies.

The coach had exploded last month following a 26-20 loss by his club to Washington and said his lack of influence on the club's collegiate draft was his principal complaint.

In Detroit, a source told UPI that "Clark has got the (Lion) job and it will be announced at a press conference Wednesday."

Final details which would enable Clark to succeed the fired Tommy Hudspeth were being worked out in a motel meeting with owner William Clay Ford of the Lions.