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49ers set to lose defensive coach — no, not that one — to Browns

© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

For about a week, the 49ers were worried that they would be losing defensive coordinator Robert Saleh for the Cleveland Browns’ open head coaching position. Instead, the Browns chose Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, whose offense Saleh put to task in the 49ers’ 27-10 Divisional Round win. The decision reportedly came down to Stefanski and Saleh.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he was “pumped” when he heard the news on his way into work and said the 49ers will be lucky to keep Saleh — who Shanahan said is likely to get a head coaching job next year — for as long as possible. He also acknowledged there would have been concern about Saleh taking some of his assistants with him to Cleveland.

As it turns out, one of those assistants may be heading to Cleveland anyway. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, defensive backs coach Joe Woods will be the Browns’ next defensive coordinator if both sides can agree to a deal. Woods helped turn a solid, but youthful and oft-injured secondary into the NFL’s best (169.2 passing yards allowed per game) and his players have raved about what he’s done with the group.

According to Matt Maiocco, Woods’ deal was one for one year, so his contract expired at the end of this season.

Woods replaced Jeff Hafley (who went from the Ohio State defensive backs coach to head coach at Boston College) and changed one thing from the jump, moving Tarvarius Moore back to free safety and D.J. Reed Jr. back to corner. Both had played in reverse of the positions they were drafted for (Moore at corner, Reed at safety), before Woods returned them to their natural positions.

If the Browns and Woods agree to a deal, the 49ers will be in need of a new defensive backs coach next season.


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