The 49ers are shaking up their assistant coaching staff.
Out: Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina, quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello and offensive assistant T.C. McCartney. All of these coaches left on their own except Zgonina. The 49ers fired him.
In: Defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Joe Woods and defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. Plus, quarterbacks coach Shane Day, wide receivers coach Wes Welker and offensive quality control coach Miles Austin, according to published reports. The 49ers have not yet officially announced the hires of Austin, Welker or Day.
In most cases, the 49ers hired assistant coaches with significantly more experience than the assistants they let go.
Woods, 48, has coached in the NFL for 15 years. He will replace Hafley, who has coached in the NFL for seven years. Hafley now is the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan said of Woods in a statement, “In addition to being a tremendous coach with a wealth of knowledge, Joe is a great person that we believe will help bring the best out of our players. Since we first worked together in Tampa, Joe has continued to gain invaluable experience in different schemes and coverages that will benefit our defense.
“Anybody who is familiar with Joe as a coach knows that he is passionate about the fundamentals of the game and we look forward to seeing the impact he has on our team.”
Woods spent the past two seasons as the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator. The previous 12 seasons, from 2004 to 2016, he was a defensive backs coach for four separate teams: the Broncos, Raiders, Vikings and Buccaneers.
Woods specializes in teaching the techniques of zone coverage. The 49ers use zone most of the time on defense.
Hafley, now gone, came to the 49ers in 2016 under former 49ers head coach Chip Kelly and former 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil. Hafley specializes in coaching the techniques of man-to-man coverage, which the 49ers don’t often use under Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
Hafley spent the past two seasons learning the 49ers’ zone-coverage scheme along with the players.
Kocurek, 40, who replaces Zgonina, has 10 years of NFL coaching experience. Zgonina has four years of NFL coaching experience.
“Kris (Kocurek) has become one of the most respected defensive line coaches in the NFL over the last decade and has a proven track record of helping his players maximize their abilities,” Shanahan said in a statement. “When he recently became available, we acted aggressively to add him to our staff because his philosophy, and the style of play he coaches, fits our scheme and personnel very well. We’re excited to get him in the meeting rooms and onto the field with our players.”
Kocurek was the Miami Dolphins’ defensive line coach in 2018, and the Detroit Lions’ defensive line coach the previous nine seasons. In Detroit, he helped develop defensive ends Cliff Avril and Ezekiel Ansah, plus defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The 49ers hope Kocurek can develop former 2017 first-round pick Solomon Thomas, who has just four sacks in his career.
Day, 44, has 10 years of NFL coaching experience. He replaces Scangarello, who has three years of experience. Scangarello now is the Broncos’ offensive coordinator.