San Francisco 49ers

49ers assistant Hardy Nickerson heads to Illinois

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson, left, talks to Courtland Clavette and Kwon Alexander, right, during a Buccaneers NFL football training camp practice Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Tampa, Fla.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson, left, talks to Courtland Clavette and Kwon Alexander, right, during a Buccaneers NFL football training camp practice Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. AP

SANTA CLARA -- Hardy Nickerson, signed in January to be the 49ers inside linebackers coach, is now the University of Illinois’ defensive coordinator, the school announced Monday.

Nickerson, 50, will join new head coach Lovie Smith at Illinois. He worked under Smith the last two seasons as the Buccaners linebackers coach and also was part of Smith’s staff with the Chicago Bears.

"Hardy Nickerson is one of the few superstar players who have been able to transition into coaching and translate the style and level of play needed to succeed to the players he is coaching," Smith told the school’s website. Nickerson was a five-time Pro Bowl selection when he played linebacker from 1987-2002.

The 49ers are looking for a replacement on their staff. Jason Tarver is one of the few holdovers from last year’s staff; he will continue to coach the outside linebackers.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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