49ers Promote Nick Sorensen To DC, Add Brandon Staley To Staff

After eyeing five candidates for their open defensive coordinator job, the 49ers have landed on an in-house option. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the 49ers are promoting defensive passing game specialist Nick Sorensen to defensive coordinator. The 49ers are also hiring another DC candidate, Brandon Staley, for a “prominent staff role,” according to Schefter. That could include the role of assistant head coach.

Following a 10-year playing career, Sorensen transitioned to coaching in 2013. He spent close to a decade on the Seahawks staff, initially working as an assistant special teams coach before moving to the defensive side of the ball, where he served as the team’s secondary coach for four years.

The Jaguars hired him as their special teams coordinator in 2021, but he only lasted a season in Jacksonville before joining the 49ers as a defensive assistant in 2022. It took him one year to earn a promotion to defensive pass game coordinator/nickels coach.

While the 49ers cast a relatively wide net to replace Steve Wilks, the organization hinted that they were valuing continuity in their search. The 49ers also interviewed defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks for the role, and Schefter notes that the organization didn’t want to “stray far from what it has done defensively for the past seven years.” In fact, Schefter adds that part of the reason why Wilks was fired was because of his inability to “adapt to the defensive scheme” of former 49ers squads led by Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans.

While Sorensen has only been on the staff for two seasons, he does possess familiarity with the team’s scheme. Pete Carroll ran a similar defense in Seattle, and Schefter notes that Sorensen’s experience was “perhaps most valuable” in his promotion.

Staley was fired by the Chargers back in December following two-plus seasons with the organization. He finished his head coaching stint with a 24-24 record, including a single one-and-done playoff appearance. Prior to his stint with the Chargers, Staley served as the defensive coordinator with the Rams in 2020. He also previously served as linebackers coach for the Broncos and Bears.

While Staley’s defensive scheme differs from the 49ers’ scheme, GM John Lynch said that wouldn’t prevent the coach from joining the staff.

“He’s a really bright dude,” Lynch said (via Schefter). “We have an open mind, but we do know there’s certain core principles that we’re going to always be on the defensive side. … I wouldn’t rule him out because of that.”

Staley is expected to be the team’s new assistant head coach, a role previously held by Anthony Lynn (who, ironically, was also a former Chargers HC). After spending the past two seasons in San Francisco, Lynn joined Dan Quinn‘s new Commanders staff as their run game coordinator/running backs coach.

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