Jeff Hafley

NFL rumors: 49ers' Joe Woods in line to be Browns' defensive coordinator

NFL rumors: 49ers' Joe Woods in line to be Browns' defensive coordinator

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers reportedly will lose defensive backs coach Joe Woods at the end of their playoff run.

Joe Woods “is on track” to become the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns under new coach Kevin Stefanski, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning.

Woods signed a one-year contract with the 49ers last year to become defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. The Browns had not asked the 49ers for permission to hire Woods, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area, because Woods is free to leave the 49ers at the end of the season when his contract expires without receiving permission from coach Kyle Shanahan.

[RELATED: Report: Browns targeting 49ers assistants as coordinators]

Under Woods, the 49ers had the NFL’s No. 1 ranked pass defense, allowing just 169.2 yards passing per game. It was the best pass defense in the league since 2009, when the New York Jets allowed 153.7.

Woods, 49, who has 16 years of NFL coaching experience, was hired last year to replace Jeff Hafley, who became Ohio State’s defensive coordinator. Hafley is now the head coach at Boston College. Woods spent the past two seasons as the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 6:30 p.m.

49ers emphasize importance of forcing turnovers vs. Cardinals in Week 8

49ers emphasize importance of forcing turnovers vs. Cardinals in Week 8

SANTA CLARA - Changing their negative turnover margin has been a serious focus for the 49ers. Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley spoke to the team about resetting, restarting and making "everything" about the ball. 

The 49ers have given away the football 15 times since they were able to force their last takeaway. Hafley made this the topic of his discussion with the entire team as they prepared to head to Arizona. The last time the two teams met, the Cardinals took the ball away five times. 

Hafley told the team they the needed make everything about the ball in all three phases of the game: Offense, defense and special teams. He even had t-shirts made with the word “EVERYTHING” in block letters with the 49ers logo just below it. 

Defensive lineman Earl Mitchell explained the concept of Hafley’s talk with the team. 

“It’s a mentality,” Mitchell said. “It’s just emphasizing that the ball should be everything. He usually gives us a presentation. It was good how he did it this time. He just wanted the team to reset, and just have the mindset that the ball is everything. If we want to win games we can’t lose the ball and we have to create takeaways. It’s all a mindset.” 

The 49ers offense has turned the ball over multiple times in each game, but Haley explained it’s not all on the offense. The mindset needs to be practiced by everyone. 

“Gunners on special teams need to try to take the ball away,” Mitchell said. “It’s the same on defense. We have to practice it too. Any given time when there’s an opportunity to take the ball away on defense, we have to get the ball in our hands. It’s a mentality.”

Mitchell said Hafley is one of the members of the staff that usually addresses the team at the end of the week. This week it was all about winning the turnover battle. 

“It’s extremely important,” Mitchell said. “It’s the ultimate difference maker.” 

The 49ers' schedule gets theoretically easier, as they will face three teams in a row with losing records. 

Tarver, Hafley retain positions on 49ers' coaching staff

Tarver, Hafley retain positions on 49ers' coaching staff

The 49ers announced the hirings of nine assistant coaches, including two members who have been retained from Chip Kelly's staff.

Jason Tarver, who coached outside linebackers last season, has been placed in the new role of senior defensive assistant under first-year coach Kyle Shanahan. And Jeff Hafley will return as the 49ers’ defensive backs coach.

The 49ers officially announced the hiring of defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Shanahan publicly confirmed Saleh’s appointment earlier on Friday.

The other additions to the staff are Richard Hightower as special teams coordinator, defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina, linebackers coach Johnny Holland, defensive quality control coach Bobby Slowik, and Marquis Johnson and Dustin Perry as strength and conditioning assistants.

Tarver, 42, has served two stints as a 49ers assistant coach in a variety of different roles. Shanahan becomes the seventh different head coach under whom he has worked, following Steve Mariucci, Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly.

He served as co-defensive coordinator/inside linebackers for one season at Stanford under David Shaw before working as defensive coordinator three seasons with the Oakland Raiders. Tarver coached outside linebackers last season under Kelly.

Hafley, 37, remains as the 49ers’ defensive backs coach. Hafley and Shanahan worked together on Mike Pettine’s staff with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

Zgonina played for seven teams in 17 NFL seasons. Zgonina, 46, left his post as assistant defensive line coach with the New York Giants to join the 49ers. Zgonina finished his playing career with the Texans from 2007 to ’09. Shanahan was in Houston in 2008 and ’09.

Richard Hightower, 36, a former college teammate of Shanahan, will be the 49ers’ special-teams coordinator. Hightower and Shanahan were teammates at the University of Texas and they worked on the same NFL coaching staffs with Houston (2006-08), Washington (2010-13) and Cleveland (2014).

In 2015, Hightower was the 49ers’ assistant special teams coach under Thomas McGaughey. He worked in the same role last season with Chicago.

Holland, 51, spent last season as the inside linebackers coach for the Cleveland Browns. Prior to Cleveland, he spent three years in the Canadian Football League, coaching linebackers with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2013) and B.C. Lions (2014-15).

Henderson, 47, was the defensive passing game coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons last season. He spent the previous four seasons as the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary coach. He has coached in the NFL for 10 seasons with the Jets, Browns, Cowboys and Falcons.

Henderson played eight seasons as a defensive back with four different teams after being a 1991 second-round selection of the New England Patriots. He played college ball at Clemson.

Slowik, 29, spent four years with Washington organization. He was video assistant for one season before spending three seasons as a defensive assistant (2011-13). Kyle Shanahan was offensive coordinator in those three seasons in which his father, Mike Shanahan, was the head coach.

Johnson, 31, was an assistant strength coach at the University of Tennessee last year. Perry, 31, spent four years (2012-15) as an assistant strength & conditioning coach at the University of Minnesota.