49ers To Interview Chiefs’ David Merritt For DC Job

The one coordinator post still open may not be settled until March. The 49ers have another external candidate they want to interview.

Chiefs defensive backs coach David Merritt will meet with the 49ers about their defensive coordinator vacancy, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo. Kansas City did not lose either of its coordinators this offseason, with neither Steve Spagnuolo nor Matt Nagy being interviewed for a top job. But one of the reigning champs’ assistants is in play to make a move up with another team.

[RELATED: Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker]

Merritt, 52, has worked under Spagnuolo in New York and Kansas City. He arrived in Missouri in 2019 and has been in place as the Chiefs’ DBs coach since. Given the performance of Kansas City’s secondary despite regular departures of starters in free agency, Merritt receiving consideration makes sense. Though, it would be interesting to see the 49ers bail on an outside hire (Steve Wilks) only to make another such move a year later. Merritt has a rather impressive jewelry case, having won five Super Bowl rings — two with the Giants as their safeties coach — and three with the Chiefs.

The Chiefs have continued to churn out productive cornerback play despite a slew of departures. Since Merritt was hired in 2019, Marcus Peters, Kendall Fuller, Steven Nelson and Charvarius Ward have departed via trade or free agency. Kansas City was able to win another Super Bowl largely on the back of its pass defense this past season, with Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed forming a top-flight CB tandem. The Chiefs have also navigated Tyrann Mathieu‘s 2022 exit, plugging in Justin Reid.

That said, Merritt has never interviewed for a coordinator position. This meeting will also satisfy the coordinator Rooney Rule, which mandates one external minority be interviewed. Merritt is Black. The 49ers have two internal candidates — DBs coach Daniel Bullocks and defensive pass-game coordinator Nick Sorensen — along with former Chargers HC Brandon Staley on the radar for this job. The 49ers promoted from within in 2021, tabbing DeMeco Ryans to replace Robert Saleh, but added Wilks in 2023.

Wilks’ defense did well to contain Patrick Mahomes for much of Super Bowl LVIII, with Kansas City’s lone touchdown before overtime coming after a botched San Francisco punt return. But Wilks’ unit buckled with the game on the line, leading to Kyle Shanahan firing him after one season. A replacement should be known soon.

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