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Saleh's new Jets coaching staff filled with 49ers ties

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Robert Saleh

Robert Saleh, who called the shots as 49ers defensive coordinator the last four seasons, is relinquishing total control on that side of the ball as head coach of the New York Jets.

Saleh has put together a coaching staff with a number of ties to the 49ers, including his choice as defensive coordinator: Former 49ers linebacker Jeff Ulbrich.

"I’m not going to be handling playing-calling duties on defense," Saleh said on Thursday. "(I) got the utmost respect and confidence in Jeff Ulbrich to be able to do that."

Ulbrich, 43, played 10 NFL seasons, all with the 49ers. From 2001-04, he started 56 of his 70 career games. He appeared in 120 games in his career.

He began his coaching career in 2009 as a special-teams assistant with the Seattle Seahawks. He spent the past six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, mostly as linebackers coach. Last year, Ulbrich served as Atlanta's assistant head coach and took over as defensive coordinator after Dan Quinn was fired as head coach and Raheem Morris took over as interim head coach.

Saleh said it is important for him to create a culture that permeates throughout the entire Jets organization rather than be solely focused on just one side of the ball.

"I think the head coach and the message that is trying to be deployed to everybody -- this is an organization that has to work with locked-in arms and work together," Saleh said. "And to ensure that the messaging and the way we want things done all the way across the board is there and maintaining that connection throughout.


"Whether it’s offense, defense, special teams, business to football, somehow, someway, everyone’s got to find their connection to the player with the mindset that we’re going to get these guys better every single day."

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Mike LaFleur, who served most recently as 49ers' run game coordinator under coach Kyle Shanahan, joins Saleh's staff as offensive coordinator. Former 49ers offensive line coach John Benton takes over as Jets run game coordinator.

"(I'm) really excited about them being able to install the system and implement the vision we all want to see -- a lot of pre-snap movement, a lot of help for the quarterback, run marrying with pass," Saleh said. "There will be a clear identity of what we’re trying to accomplish down in and down out on that side of the ball, defensive side of the ball and special teams, for that matter. 

"And so really excited about the vision we have in place for the offensive side and there’s no one better in the world than the people that we’ve hired to be Abel to do that. So it’s going to be an exciting time for this organization."

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Former 49ers assistant defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton also leaves Shanahan staff to join the Jets as defensive line coach.

On offense, recent 49ers assistant coaches Miles Austin and Taylor Embree join the Jets as wide receivers coach and running backs coach.

Also, former long-time 49ers assistant Greg Knapp was hired as passing game specialist. Knapp was 49ers offensive coordinator from 2001 to '03 under Steve Mariucci and Dennis Erickson.