There’s a change coming on the 49ers’ coaching staff after all.
Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley is leaving San Francisco to become a co-defensive coordinator for Ohio State, a source confirmed to The Bee on Monday. The news was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
Hafley will rejoin head coach Ryan Day, who was the quarterbacks coach with the 49ers in 2016 under then-head coach Chip Kelly, who was fired after one season with a 2-14 record.
Losing Hafley might not necessarily be bad news for San Francisco. The defense broke an NFL record for the fewest takeaways in a season with seven, including two interceptions, both by safeties. The young group of cornerbacks, outside of veteran Richard Sherman, struggled throughout the year while opposing quarterbacks had a 105.4 passer rating, the second-highest in the league.
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Hafley spent three seasons with the 49ers and remained with coach Kyle Shanahan when he was hired in 2017 as one of the few holdovers from the previous regime. The two were on the Cleveland Browns’ staff in 2014, when Shanahan was an offensive coordinator.
Hafley began his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 after college stints at Rutgers (2011), Pittsburgh (2006-10), Albany (2002-05) and Worcester Polytechnic (2001).
Good news for 49ers: Haskins declares - Hafley’s departure wasn’t the only Ohio State-related news that impacts the 49ers.
Dwayne Haskins of the Buckeyes declared for the NFL draft, where he’ll likely be the first quarterback taken. That’s an important development for San Francisco because Haskins could be a trade target for a quarterback-needy team, allowing the 49ers to trade back for additional draft capital.
Or, if Haskins winds up going first overall, San Francisco could have its choice of pass rushers, including Ohio State star Nick Bosa, who’s widely considered the best defensive player available. The Arizona Cardinals own the top pick a year after drafting UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.
The 49ers have only five picks in the draft after having nine and 10 selections in the past two drafts, though they could get a compensatory sixth-round pick for losing defensive end Aaron Lynch to the Chicago Bears last offseason, which was projected Monday by Overthecap.com.