Home News Ex-Chargers coach Brandon Staley excited to join 49ers’ staff

Ex-Chargers coach Brandon Staley excited to join 49ers’ staff


SANTA CLARA – Brandon Staley is on the 49ers’ coaching staff because …

a.) Kyle Shanahan wants all-around insight from a former NFL head coach, which Staley was with the Los Angeles Chargers from 2021 through Week 15 last December.

b.) Nick Sorensen enters only his first season as a defensive coordinator, a role Staley held when the 2020 Los Angeles Rams’ defense ranked first in the NFL.

c.) The 49ers’ defensive system could use a few tweaks while returning to its 2017-22 style.

d.) Heck, he’s already coached one Bosa, so now he gets an up-close view on how great Nick is compared to his older brother, Joey.

There is no single answer. It’s all of the above, plus whatever general manager John Lynch may tap Staley to advise, such as helping in last month’s draft.

“I don’t think looking at it as a reset is a bad thing,” Staley said of his career path. “Playing quarterback, when you reset, it gives you pause to move onto the next thing.”

Speaking Wednesday to Bay Area media for the first time since becoming “Assistant Head Coach/Defense,” Staley kept his job description vague. After all, Shanahan – and perhaps Lynch – will dictate what they need from Staley, and not the other way around.

On the surface, he figures to mostly help the defensive backs, filling a void created by Sorensen’s promotion to replace one-and-done coordinator Steve Wilks.

Staley gave no hints of an impending power struggle, even though he, too, interviewed for the defensive coordinator role in February.

“Nick knows who the defensive coordinator is, and Brandon does,” coach Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday. “Brandon is in a real good spot, just leaving from being a head coach and how he can help us in a number of roles. I think Nick feels very excited to have a guy on the staff who has called plays, who has done it at a number of different places and things.”

Ironically, Staley recalled being on the other end two years ago, when Sorensen interviwed with him to fill the Chargers’ special teams coordinator. Sorensen ultimately joined the 49ers as a defensive assistant, and, two years later, so has Staley.

“Talking to Kyle and John, there is a lot of common ground in how to lead a football team,” Staley said. “That is what I was looking for more than anything, an opportunity where you feel you’ll be aligned with the right people who do things the right way and you have a chance to improve, and where you also have a chance to affect a team that can compete for a championship.

“All those stars kind of aligned. It’s been energizing. That reset has allowed me to do that.”

Staley, 41, began coaching in the college ranks 2006-16, and it was early in that first job as a Northern Illinois graduate assistant that he overcame a cancer battle with Hodgkin lymphoma.

“My personal journey, there is not a day that goes by where I am not reminded of it, and I am very thankful for it,” Staley said. “Hopefully it will help me here.”

Staley’s NFL start involved coaching outside linebackers under former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on the Chicago Bears (2017-18) and the Denver Broncos (2019).

“Oh man, I felt like I coached for the Niners long before I got here. Working with Vic and then Ed Donnatell, they both mean a lot to me,” Staley said.

Staley was the 2000 Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator when they – including new 49ers pass rusher Leonard Floyd — led the NFL in fewest points and yards allowed. That propelled Staley to a head-coaching role with SoFi Stadium’s other tennant.

He went 24-24 in a Chargers’ tenure that reached the playoffs once, when their 2022 team infamously blew a 27-0 lead in a wild-card loss at Jacksonville. He got fired after Week 15 last season, following a 63-21 loss in Las Vegas on ”Thursday Night Football.”

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