49ers

Browns name former 49ers assistant Joe Woods as defensive coordinator

Browns name former 49ers assistant Joe Woods as defensive coordinator

Joe Woods on Friday officially left the 49ers coaching staff to accept the position of defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns announced the hiring of Woods, who served on Kyle Shanahan’s staff last season as defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator.

The 49ers pass defense ranked first in the NFL, holding opponents to 169.2 yards per game. It was the lowest total allowed by an NFL team since 2009, when the New York Jets allowed just 153.7 yards passing per game.

Woods signed a one-year contract with the 49ers last year to replace Jeff Hafley, who became co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State. Woods was free to join the Browns after the Super Bowl. Woods described his reasoning to not sign the typical two-year contract as a decision to bet on himself.

"Absolutely worth the wait," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said in a statement. "It's good to see when you're taking a coach from another team it's good to see that team having success. It was fun to watch those guys. They had an incredible season. Joe's impact on that defense was very real.

"I'm going to spend a lot of time with the offense but it doesn't mean I won't spend time with the defense. To be able to have somebody in there that I trust, that I know is a good coach is huge. Just sitting with him this past day and talking football, it just aligns with the vision with the type of defense we want to play. I think we've got a really good defensive coordinator."

Woods came to the 49ers after four seasons with the Denver Broncos. He was the defensive backs coach on the Broncos team that won Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. He was promoted to defensive coordinator for the 2017 and ’18 seasons under then-coach Vance Joseph.

Now, he joins a Cleveland staff under Stefanski, who was hired this offseason over 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

[RELATEDReport: 49ers' Kiffin joining Browns; Whitecotton replaces him]

"You could definitely see they had some pieces in place, some talented players that I've evaluated over the years," Woods said in a statement. "I was definitely excited to have an opportunity to be a coach here.

"Just from tradition, pride and the fanbase, I know they're craving for a winner and I know we're very close. I feel like if we can get it done, the whole city will erupt. I look forward to that challenge."

2020 NFL Draft: How 49ers' John Lynch prepares while working from home

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AP

2020 NFL Draft: How 49ers' John Lynch prepares while working from home

The 2020 NFL Draft will be held as scheduled -- albeit remotely -- amid the coronavirus pandemic, keeping 49ers general manager John Lynch plenty busy during California's shelter-in-place order.

In-person visits with prospects at the team's facility or elsewhere are off, but Lynch said he is able to make the most of watching film of potential picks while working from his home office.

“People have a lot bigger problems than we do, I can tell you that,” Lynch told NBC Sports' Peter King for his "Football Morning in America" column. “This year’s a lot different than any year scouts and GMs have had, obviously, with all the challenges. But this time of year, what you really need is time.

"The other day, [coach] Kyle [Shanahan] called and said, ‘This is unbelievable! I’m getting so much done.’ And he’s right. He and I, this time of year, would be watching this tape in our offices, and the difference is our doors aren’t getting knocked on 50 times a day. I’m really getting a lot done.”

Lynch and Shanahan have more prospects to examine than they did a month ago. The 49ers acquired another first-round draft pick -- No. 13 overall -- when they traded dominant defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. San Francisco, before then, was scheduled to make its first pick with the No. 31 overall selection.

[RELATED: 49ers' Jones switches agencies entering final year of deal]

That additional prep very well could've included watching Louisville's Mekhi Becton, whose Cardinals were on-screen in footage Lynch was watching during a video posted to social media last week showing how he was preparing for the draft at home. The offensive lineman is projected to be a top-10 pick next month, and Lynch simply wouldn't have had much reason to watch him with the 49ers' first pick set for the very end of the first round.

We'll know some of the players whom Lynch, Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers closely watched when the NFL draft begins April 23. The 49ers currently have seven picks: Two in the first round, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.

Colts' DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Day driven by 49ers' Super Bowl loss

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USATSI

Colts' DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Day driven by 49ers' Super Bowl loss

Sheldon Day and DeForest Buckner will be teammates on a new team next season, driven by the last loss with their old one.

The defensive linemen joined the Indianapolis Colts this offseason via free agency and trade, respectively, after playing together for the 49ers since midway through the 2017 season. Day and Buckner's final games with San Francisco were in the 49ers' 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, and Day said the pair has additional motivation after not lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy last season.

"It was right there in our hands, and all we had to do was squeeze it and grab it (in Super Bowl LIV), and we let up," Day told reporters on his introductory conference call last week (via Colts.com). "So ultimately we have a chip on our shoulders and we know how to get there, and now we know what to do to overcome that shortcoming that we had."

Buckner sacked eventual Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes 1.5 times in the game, accounting for three of the 49ers' nine QB hits. Day, meanwhile, played a little over half of San Francisco's 76 defensive snaps and picked up a tackle.

[RELATED: 49ers' Jones switches agencies entering final year of deal]

The Indianapolis native played in a career-high 16 games with the 49ers during the 2019 regular season, and Day started each of San Francisco's playoff games. Day credited his growth to playing with Buckner, and he's going to continue picking his brain while they're still teammates.

"DeForest (has) made me detail my game," Day said. "So we would be working on pass-rush moves, bouncing ideas off of each other, just trying to make sure that our game grew together, and we're always giving each other tips. If I see something on film [I'm reaching] out to him, and vice versa. So, man, what a special guy he is."

All the while, the 49ers' Super Bowl LIV won't be far from either player's mind.