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Brandon Staley on challenges of facing the 49ers offense, role with the team

May 22, 2024 at 2:56 PM

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San Francisco 49ers assistant head coach Brandon Staley has long admired Kyle Shanahan and his team from afar. When given the opportunity to join Shanahan's coaching staff this offseason, he eagerly accepted.

Staley spent a season in the NFC West as the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, so he knows firsthand how challenging it is to play against a Shanahan-led offense. Now, instead of strategizing against the 49ers' playmakers, he will help evolve the team and contribute to their quest for that elusive Super Bowl title.

One player Staley is relieved to have on his side is running back Christian McCaffrey, whom the 49ers traded for in 2022.

"Well, Christian, he's one of the toughest covers in the league," Staley told reporters on Wednesday. "He's such a complete player. And I think just the challenges that our offense presents to whatever defense it faces is you have to defend everybody. I think that's the strength of their offense, is you have to defend everybody. And they truly have a style of play that you also have to deal with from a technique standpoint, from a physicality standpoint.

"And I think Christian, when they made that move, it really allowed their offense to affect the entire field, both in the running game and in the passing game, because he's such a weapon. I'm excited to team up with him instead of having to defend him."

Staley brings a wealth of experience, having recently served as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. Early in Shanahan's search for a defensive coordinator to replace Steve Wilks, some speculated that Staley might get the job. Instead, it went to Nick Sorensen.

Despite Staley's extensive background, Sorensen is firmly in charge of the defense, and there has been no confusion about their roles.

"I mean, that's been defined by Kyle and [general manager] John [Lynch]," Staley said. "So what it's really about is putting a group together that's committed to the Niners. And when I came here, that's certainly what I was committed to—helping this team in whatever way Kyle and John saw best.

"And Nick has been fantastic, and we've got a great group of guys on this coaching staff."

Staley emphasized that the people within the organization were a significant factor in his decision to join the 49ers rather than seeking another defensive coordinator position.

"Just a lot of respect for Kyle from afar, and I think we've gotten to know each other a lot better over the years," Staley shared. "And I think there's just a common ground in how to coach and lead a football team. And having to face this team over the years, I felt like it would be a good opportunity for myself and my family, and hopefully, be able to help this team be as good as it can be."

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