49ers hire Ken Norton Jr.


The 49ers on Monday announced Ken Norton Jr. has joined Kyle Shanahan's staff as assistant head coach - defense/inside linebackers.

Johnny Holland, the team's linebackers coach last season, will become the team’s run game specialist/outside linebackers coach. Michael Clay will become an assistant special teams coach after being assistant strength and conditioning coach last season.

“Ken brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to our team having spent more than two decades as a NFL player and coach,” Shanahan said in a statement. “Throughout his coaching career, Ken has developed a tremendous understanding of our defensive system, making him a perfect fit for our staff.

"With four Super Bowl titles on his resume, including one as a 49er, Ken knows firsthand what it takes to become a championship caliber team.”

Norton, 51, spent the past 2 1/2 seasons as defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders under then-coach Jack Del Rio until his firing this past season.

He played in the NFL for 13 seasons, including his final seven years with the 49ers from 1994-2000. He was on two Super Bowl-winning teams as an inside linebacker with the Dallas Cowboys before winning a Super Bowl in his first season after signing with the 49ers as a free agent in 1994.

Norton spent five seasons as an assistant coach with the Seattle Seahawks as linebackers coach. He served three three seasons on Pete Carroll's staff with Robert Saleh, the 49ers' defensive coordinator. Saleh was the Seahawks' defensive quality control coach at the time. Norton and Saleh were on Seattle's team that won the Super Bowl in February 2014.

In his new role, Norton will be reconnected with weakside linebacker Malcolm Smith, who earned MVP honors in the Seahawks 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Smith spent last season on injured reserve with a torn pectoral but is expected to return as the starter. Norton will also work closely with Reuben Foster. The 49ers expect Foster to move to middle linebacker in his second NFL season.

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