The 49ers have reportedly hired a defensive backs coach, and that could lead toward a new defensive coordinator, too.
New 49ers coach Chip Kelly hired ex-Cleveland Browns secondary coach Jeff Hafley to join his staff, reports FoxSports. And one of the top candidates to emerge for their defensive coordinator position is someone who has worked closely with Hafley the past two seasons.
Former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil is one of the top candidates to fill that same position on Kelly’s staff. The 49ers already have spots filled at defensive line with Jerry Azzinaro and inside linebackers with Hardy Nickerson.
The addition of Hafley would give O’Neil a position coach at a key spot who is familiar with the system.
[MAIOCCO: 49ers coaching staff takes shape]
Jason Tarver, who coached 49ers inside linebackers, and Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach Don Martindale are also known candidates for the defensive coordinator position. Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel turned down the job last week.
The 49ers have yet to announce any assistant coaches, except for Tom Rathman, who was retained as running backs coach. But here is how the coaching staff is shaping up:
Position: Coach (2015 position)
Coach: Chip Kelly (Eagles/head coach)
Offensive coordinator: Curtis Modkins (Lions/run game coordinator)
Quarterbacks: Ryan Day (Eagles/quarterbacks)
Running backs: Tom Rathman (49ers/running backs)
Wide receivers: Bob Bicknell (Eagles/wide receivers)
Tight ends: TBA
Offensive line: Pat Flaherty (N.Y. Giants/offensive line)
Defensive coordinator: TBA
Defensive line: Jerry Azzinaro (Eagles/defensive line)
Outside linebackers: TBA
Inside linebackers: Hardy Nickerson (Buccaneers/linebackers)
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (Browns/secondary)
Special teams: Derius Swinton (Bears/assistant special teams)