Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports



It sounds like new University of Illinois head coach Lovie Smith is targeting San Francisco 49ers inside linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson for the defensive coordinator at his program, per FootballScoop.com.

Nickerson was on Smith's staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the past two seasons. He was not retained when the Buccaneers fired Smith and promoted offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter as their new head coach. Nickerson was just hired to the 49ers' staff in January, just five days after interviewing with the team.

As a player, Nickerson was a five-time Pro Bowl player after being selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fifth round of the 1987 NFL Draft out of Cal.

The 49ers would still have outside linebackers coach Jason Tarver on staff if Nickerson were to depart to join his former boss.