NFL rumors: 49ers' Chris Kiffin joining Browns; Aaron Whitecotton replaces him

NFL rumors: 49ers' Chris Kiffin joining Browns; Aaron Whitecotton replaces him

Assistant coach Chris Kiffin, who served the past two seasons as the 49ers’ pass-rush specialist, reportedly is leaving the organization to become the Cleveland Browns’ defensive line coach.

The 49ers will replace Kiffin’s spot on the coaching staff with Aaron Whitecotton, who was the Buffalo Bills’ assistant defensive line coach, Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio reported on Friday morning. Whitecotton will assist 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek,

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Whitecotton spent four seasons (2013 to ’16) with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he worked on the same staff as 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

Jaguars hire former 49ers GM Trent Baalke as their personnel director

Jaguars hire former 49ers GM Trent Baalke as their personnel director

The Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday announced former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke has been hired as the organization’s director of player personnel.

Baalke has not worked for an NFL team since 2016, when the 49ers fired him after the roster had fallen into disrepair under his watch. He worked the past three seasons for the NFL as a football operations consultant.

"I have known Trent for two decades and he'll be a valuable addition to our personnel department," Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said in a statement.

"He had a lot of success during his time in San Francisco and has proven that he has a great eye for talent and constructing a team, so we're excited for him to be a part of the organization. We look forward to welcoming Trent and his wife, Beth, to Jacksonville, and we expect him to get involved immediately as we make decisions on our current roster and approach free agency."

In 2011, Baalke was named winner of NFL Executive of the Year awards, as selected by Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers of America, for his role in helping the 49ers improve from 6-10 into a 13-3 team in his first season as general manager with Jim Harbaugh as the head coach.

The 49ers advanced to three consecutive NFC Championship Games with Baalke and Harbaugh in charge until the club fell to 8-8 in 2014. Baalke and Harbaugh clashed, and the 49ers “mutually parted ways” with Harbaugh.

Baalke was in charge of hiring the next two coaches, as the organization went with Jim Tomsula in 2015 and Chip Kelly in 2016.

After the disastrous two-win season under Kelly, the 49ers fired Baalke and Kelly. San Francisco hired coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.

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Baalke originally joined the 49ers in 2005 as a regional scout. He was promoted to director of player personnel in 2008. In 2010, he moved into the role of vice president of player personnel before taking over as general manager in 2011 after Scot McCloughan left the organization.

Only six players who appeared in the 49ers’ 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV remain among those Baalke brought to the organization: Safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt, defensive linemen Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, running back Raheem Mostert, and long-snapper Kyle Nelson.

Jalen Ramsey blames teammate for blown coverage on 49ers' Emmanuel Sanders

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AP

Jalen Ramsey blames teammate for blown coverage on 49ers' Emmanuel Sanders

On the most important play of the game of San Francisco's Week 16 win, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey let 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders run right past him on the line of scrimmage.

Seconds later, Ramsey was chasing Sanders down from behind, after the latter had hauled in a 46-yard reception on third-and-16, setting up a game-winning field goal for Robbie Gould.

At first glance, it appeared Ramsey was to blame for allowing Sanders to get so wide open. But in reality, it actually was by design.

The play was designed for Ramsey to play a trail technique, where he would intentionally allow the receiver to get past him so that he would be able to jump anything underneath. The trail technique only works, however, when there's a safety over the top to cover the deep ball. That was Taylor Rapp's responsibility, and the rookie showed his inexperience in turning the wrong way, allowing Sanders to break free inside.

After the game, Ramsey didn't shy away from pointing the finger.

"We was in a form of two-man," Ramsey described. "We had an adjustment check to it because they [were in] condensed splits. I played my technique, trusting that [Rapp] was going to be over top. He wasn't."

By defeating the Rams, the 49ers officially eliminated Los Angeles from playoff contention. Ramsey, who was acquired in a mid-season trade, clearly was frustrated by that development, and might have thrown the second-round pick under the bus as a result.

[RELATED: Where 49ers stand in NFC playoff picture after beating Rams]

It would seem, though, that Ramsey's brief time in Los Angeles thus far hasn't gone the way he had hoped, and therein lies the problem for the Rams. They traded away their own first-round picks in the next two drafts, as well as a fourth-round selection in 2021 to acquire him, and you don't pay that kind of price for a rental. Ramsey, though, will be on the final year of his contract next season and will be due to hit unrestricted free agency in 2021. Whether it's the franchise tag -- which would not go over well with Ramsey -- or a lucrative long-term deal, Los Angeles has already committed itself to the standout cornerback for the foreseeable future.

When you consider that the Rams' draft cupboards essentially are bare and they're about to enter salary-cap hell -- that's what happens when you bank on the wrong QB -- an unhappy team leader (who knows he has all the leverage) could create a troublesome situation. Just ask the Jaguars.