Breaking News

What Sorensen, Staley bring to 49ers after reported hires

NBC Universal, Inc.

Nick Sorensen and Brandon Staley were the first to interview with coach Kyle Shanahan for the 49ers’ defensive coordinator job.

Clearly, Shanahan was duly impressed. He reportedly plans to hire both of them.

Sorensen, 45, will be promoted to defensive coordinator after two years as a 49ers assistant, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The coordinator position became open when Shanahan fired Steve Wilks three days after the 49ers’ Super Bowl LVIII loss to the Kansas City Chefs.

Sorensen, who played 10 NFL seasons as a safety, will work closely with Staley, the former Los Angeles Chargers coach. Staley, 41, reportedly will join the 49ers’ staff as assistant head coach.

The 49ers’ takeaways soared over the past two seasons with Sorensen on staff. He was tasked with coming up with ways to emphasize generating turnovers, and the 49ers excelled in that area, with 42 interceptions while surrendering just 40 touchdown passes.

Staley met with Shanahan and 49ers general manager John Lynch and had an impressive interview. Shanahan and Lynch first spent time with Staley in August 2021, when the 49ers and Chargers met in Costa Mesa for a couple of days of joint practices leading up to their preseason game.

Shanahan and Lynch were impressed by Staley’s knowledge of the game and his way of expressing his perspective. After three seasons as Chargers head coach, Staley also will work closely with Shanahan in all areas.

The 49ers’ former assistant head coach, Anthony Lynn, was hired last month to join Dan Quinn’s staff with the Washington Commanders as running game coordinator.

After participating in interviews in Santa Clara, Lynch traveled to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine this week. He outlined what the 49ers were seeking from their new defensive coordinator.

“We like who we are, what we do as a defense,” Lynch said Tuesday. “I don’t think we want to have some wholesale departure from that. We like the style that we play, a four-down front that attacks.

“Having said that, I think you always have to evolve and you look at an opportunity like this to look into the different ways that we can evolve. Oftentimes, a lot of these ideas come up in these interviews.”

Staley worked under former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on his staffs in Chicago and Denver. The Rams hired Staley as defensive coordinator in 2020. He was there for one season before landing the Chargers’ head-coaching job. Staley compiled a 24-25 record in three seasons, including 0-1 in the playoffs.

Sorensen’s promotion from 49ers passing game specialist/nickel backs coach ends a 17-day search for the new defensive coordinator. The 49ers also interviewed defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks, Kansas City defensive backs coach Dave Merritt and Las Vegas safeties coach Gerald Alexander for the position.

Sorensen becomes a first-time defensive coordinator. He was hired by the 49ers as a defensive assistant in 2022 and received a promotion to defensive passing game/nickel backs coach last season.

Sorensen appeared in 134 games over 10 seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns. He served as a backup safety and special-teams contributor.

He came to the 49ers after spending one season as special teams coordinator in Jacksonville.

Sorensen began his NFL coaching career in 2013 with eight seasons in Seattle on Pete Carroll’s staff. He started as a special teams assistant, then moved to secondary coach (2017-19) and secondary coach/nickel specialist in 2020. He worked under defensive coordinators Kris Richard and Ken Norton with the Seahawks.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast

Contact Us