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Browns swipe ‘brains’ behind 49ers’ defensive line, Saleh’s replacement a familiar face [report]

© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports


For the second-straight day, the Cleveland Browns have signed away a member of the 49ers’ defensive coaching staff. After defensive backs coach Joe Woods officially took the job with the Browns as defensive coordinator under former Minnesota Vikings colleague Kevin Stefanski (Woods spent seven years there with Stefanski), Cleveland turned its attention to the defensive line, reportedly adding 49ers pass rush specialist Chris Kiffin as their defensive line coach.

Kiffin, as his last name suggests, comes from football royalty. His father, Monte Kiffin, founded the Tampa 2 defense, and his brother is Lane Kiffin, now the head coach at Ole Miss.

While defensive line coach Kris Kocurek was rightfully showered with plaudits for getting an elite, season- and playoff-long performance out of the defensive line, it was Kiffin who was the bridge between Kocurek and Robert Saleh, and who Nick Bosa described as the “brains” behind the defensive line.

“He helps Saleh a lot out with just the scheme and stuff. He’s a really, really smart coach,” Bosa said. “He’s like the behind-the-scenes guy, he’s not the screamer like Chris [Kocurek]. Kiff’s more quiet, but he’s like the brains behind the operation and Chris gets it done… He’s got the iPad, he’s got his mic on and he’s getting everything from what people see upstairs and yeah definitely the big adjustment guy just telling Chris what he sees and going back and forth.”

The report of Kiffin’s departure, from Alex Marvez of SiriusXM radio, also comes with the name of the 49ers’ replacement: Aaron Whitecotton.

Whitecotton comes from the Buffalo Bills, where he was assistant defensive line coach this past season. Whitecotton had been with the Bills since 2017 (first as an administrative assistant to the head coach, and the last two as assistant defensive line coach). Before that, he had spent four years (2013-16) with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an assistant to the defensive staff, where Saleh was linebackers coach from 2014-16.

 

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