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Kyle Terada/Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

49ers promoting Nick Sorensen to defensive coordinator, hiring Brandon Staley as assistant head coach

Mar 2, 2024 at 6:50 AM--

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According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the San Francisco 49ers are promoting defensive passing game specialist Nick Sorensen to defensive coordinator. The team also plans on hiring former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley for the assistant head coach role.

The move follows the dismissal of Steve Wilks after the 49ers' defeat in Super Bowl 58. Wilks served only one season as San Francisco's defensive coordinator, during which the unit ranked eighth in total yards allowed, third in points allowed, third in rushing yards allowed, and 14th in passing yards allowed during the regular season.

While Staley was also a candidate for the defensive coordinator job, general manager John Lynch made it clear this week at the NFL Scouting Combine that the 49ers don't intend to stray from the defensive philosophy they have established over the years.

"We know who we are, who we're going to be, and that's not going to make a wholesale schematic change there," Lynch said, per ESPN. "We feel good about where we're at."

Sorensen wrapped up his second season with the 49ers, his first as the team's defensive passing game specialist, following a year as a defensive assistant. Prior to joining the 49ers, he served as the special teams coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2021 season.

Before his tenure with the Jaguars, Sorensen spent eight years with the Seattle Seahawks (2013-20), where he held roles as a special teams assistant and secondary coach. His coaching journey began in 2012 as a defensive quality control coach at Youngstown State University after a decade-long career as a safety in the NFL, playing for the St. Louis Rams, Jaguars, and Cleveland Browns.

In addition to Sorensen and Staley, other known candidates for the defensive coordinator job were 49ers defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks, Kansas City Chiefs defensive backs coach David Merritt, and Las Vegas Raiders safeties coach Gerald Alexander.

Staley spent the last three seasons as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, achieving a record of 24-24 during his time there and making one playoff appearance.

Staley previously served as a defensive coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020. During that season, the Rams' defense ranked first in total yards, points, and passing yards allowed while also placing third in rushing yards.

Before his time with the Rams, Staley worked as a linebackers coach with the Chicago Bears (2017-18) and the Denver Broncos (2019).

Staley replaces Anthony Lynn, who left the 49ers after two seasons to become the run game coordinator and running backs coach of the Washington Commanders.

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