K.J. Wright

49ers Makes Additions, Promotions To Coaching Staff

The 49ers were spared much of the poaching that occurred to other coaching staffs around the league this offseason, but that doesn’t mean there were no changes to be made in San Francisco. Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area noted some changes to the team’s coaching staff this week.

In 2023, the offensive line was guided by offensive line coach and run game coordinator Chris Foerster and assistant offensive line coaches James Cregg and Joe Graves. While Foerster and Graves remain in their roles from last season, Cregg departed to take the offensive line coaching job in Las Vegas. Filling Cregg’s role as the second assistant offensive line coach in 2024 will be Cameron Clemmons. Clemmons most recently served as assistant offensive line coach for the Raiders, so he’ll be swapping places with Cregg.

Another staffer who departed this offseason was offensive passing game specialist Klint Kubiak, who accepted the new offensive coordinator gig in New Orleans. Taking Klint’s spot as offensive passing game specialist will be his younger brother, Klay Kubiak. Klay joined the 49ers staff in 2021 as a defensive quality control coach before spending the past two seasons as assistant quarterbacks coach. The two brothers are sons to former NFL head coach Gary Kubiak, who has three sons working in the NFL today. Kubiak’s third son, Klein Kubiak, is a national scout for the Cowboys.

Lastly on offense, we had reported the team’s addition of former Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi back in March. While a title at the time had not been divulged, Maiocco now informs us that Lombardi will serve as senior offensive assistant in 2024.

On defense, the only update provided by Maiocco concerned K.J. Wright, who was announced to be joining the 49ers staff for his first coaching gig after serving as a member of the rival Seahawks defense for 10 years as a linebacker. The initial report listed Wright as the team’s new assistant linebackers coach. Instead, it appears that Wright’s title will officially be defensive quality control coach, though he will almost certainly be focused on San Francisco’s linebacking corps.

Latest On 49ers Coaching Staff

The 49ers found their replacement for Steve Wilks this past weekend when they promoted defensive passing game specialist Nick Sorensen to defensive coordinator. While Sorensen has had a rapid rise through the organization in recent years, his ascent to DC could have happened even sooner.

[RELATED: 49ers Promote Nick Sorensen To DC, Add Brandon Staley To Staff]

According to Albert Breer of SI.com, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was so impressed by Sorensen’s first season in San Francisco that he considered promoting the coach to DC last offseason. Shanahan ultimately believed that Sorensen needed a bit more time to develop, leading the 49ers to hire Wilks as their replacement for DeMeco Ryans.

The 49ers have also brought in Brandon Staley for some experience on their defensive coaching staff. Breer passes along that the former Chargers head coach will serve as the 49ers new assistant head coach, confirming earlier reports.

One name that wasn’t a reported candidate for the job was Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. However, Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic reports that “there was mutual interest in exploring a marriage,” with Ulbrich presumably being recruited to be the team’s new DC. Ultimately, the Jets made it clear that they weren’t going to let their coordinator take a lateral job elsewhere, and the 49ers never requested a formal request for an interview.

Ulbrich would have been a natural candidate for the job considering his connects to San Francisco. He grew up in the Bay Area and played 10 seasons for the 49ers organization. Further, as Rosenblatt notes, Ulbrich aspires to be a head coach one day, and two of San Francisco’s last three DCs ultimately earned head coaching jobs.

With Sorensen now in place as defensive coordinator, he’s starting to add to his staff. The team did add one notable name this week, with K.J. Wright announcing that he’s joining the 49ers as an assistant linebackers coach (via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times). Wright, of course, spent a decade with the 49ers’ division rivals in Seattle, with the linebacker ranking third in Seahawks history in tackles.

Wright and Sorensen previously worked alongside each other with the Seahawks, as the coach spent close to a decade on Pete Carroll‘s staff. According to Michael-Shawn Dugar and David Lombardi of The Athletic, Wright also interviewed for a position on Mike Macdonald’s new Seahawks staff, but the organization ultimately decided to go in a different direction.

LB K.J. Wright Retires After 11 Seasons

K.J. Wright said earlier this offseason he would retire if a deal to return to the Seahawks did not transpire. A middle ground of sorts emerged Wednesday. The Seahawks signed Wright to a one-day contract, allowing the veteran linebacker to retire with the team.

Wright will walk away from football after 10 seasons with the Seahawks and one with the Raiders. He ends his career having signed four contracts, including two Seattle extensions. Wright, who turned 33 last week, is one of the longest-tenured defenders in Seahawks history.

Playing alongside Bobby Wagner for most of his career, Wright also became one of the better off-ball linebackers of this era. He started 148 games; his 140 starts as a Seahawk are the eighth-most by a defender in franchise annals. Wagner and Wright represent one of the longest-running linebacking tandems in modern NFL history. The organization has said goodbye to each in the past two offseasons, letting Wright walk in 2021 and releasing Wagner in March. The team is expected to use Cody Barton alongside 2020 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks this season.

Wright’s 934 tackles are the third-most in Seahawks history — behind only Wagner and safety Eugene Robinson — and he added 111 more in the playoffs. This included an 11-tackle performance in Super Bowl XLIX. The Mississippi State alum totaled 68 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks and 11 forced fumbles.

Being part of one of this generation’s defining defenses will be a major part of Wright’s legacy. He joined the Seahawks as a fourth-round pick in 2011 and was on a defense that housed impact players up front (Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril), at linebacker and in the secondary (Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor). Wright outlasted all of them but Wagner in Seattle. The Seahawks became the first team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to lead the league in scoring defense in four straight seasons, doing so from 2012-15.

The Seahawks gave Wright a four-year, $27MM extension in December 2014, locking him down not long after extending Thomas and Sherman. They decided on a third Wright pact in 2019, keeping him off the free agent market by doing a two-year deal worth $14MM. Wright recorded a career-high 132 tackles in 2019, his age-30 season, and held off Brooks to keep his job as a full-time player throughout the 2020 campaign. Last year, however, the Seahawks opted not to pair Wagner’s top-market contract with another Wright deal.

The Raiders gave Wright a one-year deal worth $3.5MM just before last season but used Wright as a part-time player. Although the SEC product played in all 17 Raider games, he was on the field for just 37% of Las Vegas’ defensive snaps. That will be a footnote for Wright, who will retire after making nearly $50MM during a career that included two Super Bowl starts and a Pro Bowl nod in 2016.

K.J. Wright To Retire If No Seahawks Return Commences

After 10 years with the Seahawks, K.J. Wright moved on in 2021. With the Seahawks giving Jordyn Brooks his role alongside Bobby Wagner, Wright waited until September before signing with the Raiders. He is not planning to chart a similar course this year.

Wright spent time with the Seahawks at their minicamp earlier this month and has been loosely connected to a return. But the Seahawks may be more interested in bringing him back in a non-playing, mentor-type role. If Wright’s first NFL employer does not reconsider its approach regarding a linebacking opportunity, he will not pursue a contract with another team.

I mean, I love ball, but I’m not willing to pick up and leave my family like I did last year,” Wright said during an appearance on SiriusXM’s I Am Athlete Tonight show (via Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News-Tribune). “And so I think it’s pretty well known where I stand at, how I want to end my career, going into my 12th season. If it’s not in Seattle, then I’ll be all good.”

Wright, 32, made $3.76MM with the Raiders last season but played a greatly reduced role — at least, compared to his Seahawks years — in seeing time on just 37% of Las Vegas’ defensive plays. Although Wright did not miss a game last season, his snap count dropped from 991 in 2020 to 425. The Raiders have made a few changes on defense this offseason, hiring Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator and cutting Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. No Wright-Raiders connections have emerged, and the 11-year vet shut any possible reunion down this week.

Parting ways with Wright and Wagner in consecutive offseasons, the Seahawks have fully rebooted their linebacking corps and are set to use an altered defensive system under DC Clint Hurtt. Former third-round pick Cody Barton is on track to join Brooks as an off-ball starter this year. If it comes down to a playing offer with another team or a coaching chance with the Seahawks, it will be interesting to see if Wright sticks to his guns as the season nears. The 2011 third-round pick has made 140 career Seahawks starts — eighth-most by a defender in franchise history.

It’ll hurt. I know that walking away from the game will be, you know, that that’s hard to do,” Wright said. “But [the Seahawks] know where I stand. But I love my family more than I love football. So I’m not willing to just up and go to a team midseason for five months. I got three kids and I love them way more than just up and leaving them to play some ball.

So we’ll see. Seattle knows my heart. It only makes sense for me to go back. And so we’ll see what they end up doing.”

Latest On Seahawks’ LB Situation

The most significant departure from the Seahawks this offseason was Russell Wilson, but the team also lost a future Hall of Famer at the middle linebacker spot. With that position being a significant talking point, analysis from ESPN’s Brady Henderson sheds light on the team’s 2022 plans. 

Especially with Bobby Wagner now in Los Angeles, the door would seem to be open for a reunion between the Seahawks and K.J. Wright. The 32-year-old has made it clear he wishes to return to Seattle“I just want to go back home” he said last month. “I think it’s that simple. Seattle knows that I want to come back. They know how much they mean to me.”

However, Henderson writes that while the two sides have “discussed a possible return”, general manager John Schneider has indicated that such a reunion “would probably be in a non-playing role”. Wright spent last season with the Raiders after a decade in Seattle during which time he was a key member of the ‘Legion of Boom’.

Assuming he doesn’t return to the field, that would point to Cody Barton assuming the starting role alongside 2020 first-rounder Jordyn BrooksThe 25-year-old has made 48 appearances across three seasons in Seattle, but only registered five starts during his tenure, including two in place of an injured Wagner last year. That is likely to change, given that the team didn’t sign a starting-caliber ‘backer in free agency, and elected not to draft one in April.

A Brooks-Barton pairing would represent a further turning of the page on defense for Seattle, a unit which will be led by new DC Clint Hurtt. If the former can build off of his highly productive season in 2021 (in which he made 184 tackles), and the latter can handle a starter’s workload, though, the absence of both Wagner and Wright could be mitigated.

K.J. Wright Eyeing Seahawks Return

Free agent linebacker K.J. Wright spent a season in a city other than Seattle for the first time in his NFL career last year, but he wants to avoid a repeat of that in 2022. When speaking with Pro Football Network’s Trey Wingo, the veteran expressed his desire to return to the Seahawks (video link). 

“I just want to go back home” he said when asked about his ideal scenario for the upcoming campaign. “I think it’s that simple. Seattle knows that I want to come back. They know how much they mean to me.”

Wright, 32, was a fourth round pick of the Seahawks in 2011. He went on to play 144 games with the team across 10 seasons, playing a part in the ‘Legion of Boom’ defense. Forming a tandem with Bobby Wagner in the middle of the unit, he provided consistent production, topping 100 tackles five times. In 2016, he earned his lone Pro Bowl appearance after totalling 126 stops and a career-high four sacks.

Last offseason, however, his time on the open market dragged into September. Wright maintained throughout the spring that he wished to remain in the Emerald City, but it became clear that the team was prepared to move on. As a result, the Mississippi State alum signed with the Raiders weeks after visiting the team. In Vegas, he took on a much smaller role in terms of playing time than he was used to, starting only eight of 17 games.

Now, Wright is again hoping to sign another deal with the Seahawks. The team released Wagner and didn’t draft a linebacker last weekend, but it remains to be seen if they would be interested in a reunion. If not, Wright may be willing to hang up his cleats for good.

“My family didn’t come with me [to Vegas]” he said. “I’m not doing that again. I don’t think I’m going to move my family anywhere across the country. If it’s not Seattle again, I’ll be happy. I’ll be content.”

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/31/21

Here are the New Year’s Eve additions and subtractions from teams’ reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

  • Activated from practice squad virus list: T Drew Himmelman, LB Barrington Wade

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Raiders To Sign LB K.J. Wright

K.J. Wright‘s lengthy offseason in free agency looks like it is coming to an end. The veteran linebacker is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Raiders, NFL reporter Josina Anderson tweets. The Raiders met with Wright nearly a month ago, and the parties are belatedly moving forward on an agreement.

The Raiders have battled some linebacker injury trouble and acquired Denzel Perryman from the Panthers last week. While Perryman played for new Las Vegas DC Gus Bradley, so did Wright. Bradley was Seattle’s DC during Wright’s first two NFL seasons nearly a decade ago.

After the Seahawks drafted Jordyn Brooks in the 2020 first round, it appeared Wright would not receive a fourth contract from the team. This Las Vegas agreement will lead to Wright’s first relocation since entering the NFL.

The Seahawks took Wright in the 2011 fourth round and used him as a starter for 10 seasons. The veteran defender was open to a Seattle return but did not want to do so on a discount. However, it is unlikely Wright’s Raiders agreement will approach the two-year, $14MM Seahawks pact he signed in 2019.

Vegas’ linebacking corps brings together a mix of holdovers and former Bradley charges, but this now looks like a deep group that could be considerably better than last year’s corps. The Raiders kept seven linebackers on roster cutdown day, including third-round pick Divine Deablo, who is transitioning from safety. The Silver and Black also have returning starters Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski and Nicholas Morrow on the roster. Morrow has battled an ankle injury, leading to the Perryman acquisition. Wright is unlikely to be joining the Raiders to be a backup, so Vegas’ starting lineup stands to undergo more changes ahead of the season.

Wright, 32, has made 140 starts over the course of his career, working as an outside linebacker in the Seahawks’ 4-3 scheme. Despite his unattached status since March, Wright graded as a top-10 off-ball ‘backer (per Pro Football Focus) last season. He has five 100-plus-tackle seasons, and he notched 11 tackles for loss and 10 passes defensed last year. No only player accomplished that particular double-double in 2020.

Raiders Host K.J. Wright

The Raiders are hosting K.J. Wright on a visit today (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). If all goes well, the former Seahawks linebacker could reunite with old pal Gus Bradley.

Wright spent the previous ten years in Seattle, standing as the team’s longest-tenured player. However, he’s been on the market all offseason as the Seahawks pivot towards top 2020 draft picks Jordyn Brooks and Darrell Taylor.

Wright has started at least 12 games in each of his pro seasons, save for 2018 when he dealt with a knee injury. He.won Super Bowl XLVIII with the Seahawks and even made the Pro Bowl in 2016. One of the last members of the legendary ‘Legion of Boom’ defenses of yesteryear, Wright could find a new home in Las Vegas.

He’s also expressed interest in rejoining another contact — Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn — but it’s not clear if there’s mutual interest. Ditto for the Seahawks.

Yes, there is a chance,” Wright said last month. “There is a chance, and I’m not closing the door on Seattle. Going into free agency, I thought it’d be a no-brainer, but they’re going to wait until training camp, so we’ll see. No matter what happens, my career in Seattle was just unforgettable.

Wright, 32, posted 86 tackles, eleven tackles for loss, and a pair of sacks in 16 starts last year.

Latest On LB K.J. Wright

K.J. Wright is still looking for his next NFL gig, and the veteran linebacker continues to hint that he could end up back with the Seahawks.

“Yes, there is a chance,” Wright said during an appearance on SiriusXM Radio (via Twitter). “There is a chance, and I’m not closing the door on Seattle. Going into free agency, I thought it’d be a no-brainer, but they’re going to wait until training camp, so we’ll see. No matter what happens, my career in Seattle was just unforgettable”

This isn’t the first time the 10-year veteran has suggested re-signing with the Seahawks, but the organization has continued to keep their distance as they pivot to their youth. The organization wants their top 2020 draft picks, Jordyn Brooks and Darrell Taylor, to become starters next to Bobby Wagner, who’s currently the NFL’s highest-paid off-ball ‘backer. Considering the date, it’s unlikely Wright would command a pricey contract, but there’s no clear role for him on the current squad.

On the flip side, the two camps have agreed to three contracts since Wright joined Seattle as a fourth-round pick in 2011, and he’s earned a Super Bowl ring and a Pro Bowl nod during his decade with the organization. The soon-to-be 32-year-old also continued producing in 2020, finishing with 86 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and a pair of sacks in 16 starts. It’s unlikely his career is over.

If Wright doesn’t land back in Seattle, it sounds like he’s ready to contribute to his next team. The veteran cited his versatility as a reason for why he’d fit in with practically any team.

“For me, I believe that it’s what a team wants from me,” Wright said. “I know what I provide to a team, I know that coming off my two best seasons after I suffered a knee injury – had my two best years, played phenomenal, switched positions…I know that I can go into a training camp, pick up the playbook, nice and easy…[and] go out to perform in any position that want me at.”