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.
"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."