Former Cardinals and Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher interviewed for the Bears’ DC gig this week, but he will instead head back to the NFC West.
The 49ers will hire Bettcher to work in a senior defensive assistant-type capacity, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Like the Bears, the 49ers filled their defensive coordinator position from within. DeMeco Ryans will replace Robert Saleh, but he will now have a veteran defensive play-caller on staff.
Bettcher, 42, led the Cardinals’ defense from 2015-17, overseeing top-10 defenses before and after Chandler Jones‘ arrival. Bettcher’s Giants units did not fare as well, leading to the experienced assistant taking the 2020 season off. But he will be back in the mix for a talented 49ers unit next season.
Following Todd Bowles becoming the Jets’ head coach in 2015, the Cards promoted Bettcher from outside linebackers coach to DC. The team went 13-3 that season, setting a record for most wins in franchise history. Bettcher’s three-Pro Bowler unit ranked in the top 10 in points and yards. Arizona’s Jones-led 2016 and ’17 defenses were also top 10 in yards. Bettcher’s most recent Giants defense, however, ranked 30th in points allowed.
Ryans has been with the 49ers since 2017, rising quickly from the quality control level to a DC role. He and Bettcher will attempt to replace Saleh, who coaxed quality play from the past two San Francisco defenses — doing so last year despite rampant injury issues.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.