We must devote some energy to finding an NFL team for George Allen, preferably west of the Mississippi or at least beyond the fallout range of his paranoia. Alas, that seems futile for another year, because all the probable teams with coaching vacancies after this season are controlled by Allen's enemies. Unless...

Well, a recurring rumor flitting about the league insists Joe Thomas is not in as firm control of the San Francisco 49ers as the 49ers would like everyone to believe. The scenario has Thomas being ousted and possibly Allen or the Rams' Don Klosterman heading the franchise.

Thomas is another NFLer who holds an Allen-like fascination throughout much of sport, a brilliant judge of personnel with an uncommon ability to self-destruct. He scounts owners, as what might be called a franchise broker, air conditioning or shopping mall impresarios panting for an NFL toy and a man to make it run.

But Thomas must rip the toy apart and put it back together with parts he selects. That creates considerable intra-franchise friction and as much ill will within the community. And although nearly every move Thomas has made -- with the Baltimore Colts as well as the 49ers -- could be defended as sound and almost necessary, Ed DeBartolo, like Robert Irsay, may be ready to allow someone else to tinker with his toy.

Allen would be a splendid choice.He would have a nucleus of fine players -- many of them acquired by Thomas -- and enough draft choices to trade for the proper number of veterans to make the 49ers instantly successful.

And speed is important for Allen. If he does not return to coaching rather quickly, it might soon become obvious he is not as indispensable as so many believe. The Redskins making the playoffs this season would fuel that notion.

Redskin fans ought to hope Allen resurfaces soon, because that would help make the Redskins better more quickly. Allen needs a corps of properly motivated veterans, Billy Kilmer types, and always pays at least a fair price.

If the 49ers either tolerate Thomas or choose someone other than Allen, wither George? Cincinnati? The Bengals already have fired one coach this year.

"Somehow," one NFL executive said, "George Allen and Paul Brown does not have a nice ring."

And George Allen and Wellington Mara would be beyond belief. Yes, I know George Allen and Carroll Rosenbloom seemed beyond belief a year ago -- and circumstances quickly reinforced the theory they could not coexist.

But Allen's Redskins -- and his Ram teams of the '60s -- had a genuine hatred for Mara's Giants. Still, Allen would deliver a winner, if not a championship. He always has.

Barring unforseen chaos with the Cardinals or Irsay suffering another attack of lunacy in the final three weeks before the playoffs, no other jobs will open.

A year ago the Coaches Shuffle was running out of control in the NFL. Chuck Knox was forced out of Los Angeles, Allen was fired in Washington and there were vacancies in St. Louis, Cleveland, San Francisco, Kansas City and Chicago. The Bear job will not open, even though the team will finish with a worse record than last season under Redskin Coach Jack Pardee.

The Revolving Door franchises, New Orleans, Houston, San Diego and Atlanta, seem content with their coaches. So fate might conspire to keep Allen off the sidelines another year, although he still will be paid by the Rams.

"North of the border?" another general manager mused.

I hope not. For anyone who can avoid too close contact, Allen can be viewed as an obsessed eccentric, a man whose notions on how to build a team seem wonderfully logical but are regarded as radical within the NFL. He sometimes is an antidote to league-office silliness.

One question comes to mind: Where would the Redskins be if Allen had stayed as coach? Probably, they would have the same 8-5 record as now -- and with at least as much intrateam bickering.

Allen always found a way to win a game or two he should have lost, such as the New England gift and the first Cowboy game, and he also always found a way to lose a game or two he should have won.

His teams have their backs against the wall in preseason. His offense is duller than the Congressional Record and he knows no other way to operate than with an us-against-the-world attitude.

But his finger-lickin' posture has been such a fixture on NFL weekends that even those at the top of his all-opponent team must miss him now and then.

Allen wears quickly, though. He is best viewed at considerable distance, but what good is the NFL if it provides only Al Davis to root passionately against?