Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers weighing option of promoting Kris Kocurek to defensive coordinator

Feb 2, 2023 at 8:42 AM--

Vic Fangio officially joined the Miami Dolphins as their new defensive coordinator, removing his name from the list of potential candidates for the same job with the San Francisco 49ers.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan and company have already requested permission to interview Carolina Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks and Washington Commanders defensive backs coach Chris Harris as part of their search to replace DeMeco Ryans, who became the Houston Texans head coach this week.

The 49ers will also look internally, as they did when hiring Ryans to replace Robert Saleh in 2021. Shanahan hopes to keep some continuity with his defensive staff.

"I'm trying to get something where we don't have to turn much over," Shanahan said on Wednesday. "I would love to keep our same staff, so I'm going to talk to some guys on our staff."

One of those internal candidates might be Kris Kocurek, the 49ers' defensive line coach since 2019. According to Josina Anderson, San Francisco is evaluating the possibility of promoting their valuable and well-respected assistant coach.

Does Kocurek want to shift his focus from the defensive line, though? Grant Cohn of Sports Illustrated once asked Kocurek if he sought to move up the coaching ranks.

"D-line is my passion," Kocurek responded. "When I was younger, conceptually, I always kind of want to know what's going on within a defense, just so when I'm watching tape on our defense, I can see where breakdowns happen and who should be in gaps of what coverages we're in. But my eyes are always drawn back to the front.

"When I was younger, first three or four years in the league, I took every single note I could possibly take on coverages and all this stuff, and then I'd be taking notes on coverages, and I was watching the D-line. Since I was in middle school, I've always put my hand in the ground, something I have a passion for and something that I really don't see changing."

Kocurek, a former defensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans, entered the NFL coaching ranks as an assistant defensive line coach with the Detroit Lions in 2009. He became their defensive line coach in 2010 after the retirement of Bob Karmelowicz and remained in that role for eight years. Kocurek served in the same role for one season (2018) with the Miami Dolphins before joining Shanahan's staff in Santa Clara.

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