49ers Assistant ‘Fired’ After Team Asked for Pay Cut: Report

George Kittle

Getty George Kittle, head coach Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers.

The San Francisco 49ers reportedly fired one of the coaches on their offensive staff on February 1, just two days after the NFC Championship game.

The 2021-2022 season didn’t end the way the 49ers wanted to, as the Los Angeles Rams bested San Francisco 20-17 at SoFi Stadium. However, considering the nature of the season with two quarterbacks and a 3-5 start, being very close to another Super Bowl appearance isn’t a bad season.

It made sense that the Niners may lose coordinators or staff members to openings around the league, but it comes a bit of a surprise that the 49ers are firing assistant head coach and tight ends coach Jon Embree, per Solomon Wilcots.

“On Tuesday @49ers fired Asst. H.C & TE coach Jon Embree who developed 5th rd pick @gkittle46. Being asked to take a 60% pay cut is how they now fire minority coaches today. #NFL #49ers,” Wilcots’ post read.

The second sentence of Wilcots’ report obviously sticks out, especially in the context of former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filing a class-action lawsuit against the NFL over racial discrimination. However, while Wilcots’ statement states a clear racial tone to the departure, the initial reaction from 49ers fans suggest it could be due to defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans sticking around.

The Athletic’s Matt Barrows then confirmed the report, but did not comment on the pay cut aspect or anything else from Wilcots’ initial Tweet.

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Speculation on Embree, Ryans

While the response to Wilcots’ report varied, a shared trait was surprise. Considering what Embree has accomplished with tight end George Kittle since taking the job in 2017, why would the 49ers want to get him out?

Former NFL writer Stephanie Mack posed that Ryans could be getting the assistant head coaching position instead.

“I’m speculating, but the scuttlebutt was DeMeco was getting the Assistant HC role and Embree was losing it. With loss of duties, it may make sense. But, I have no problem asking the question. The 49ers need to be forthright and transparent about it at this juncture.”

That’s certainly possible. Ryans is reportedly sticking around rather than continuing to interview for vacant head coaching jobs, and the Niners may want to have him as an assistant HC to reward him. It also makes sense considering head coach Kyle Shanahan is offensive-minded. Ryans’ defensive prowess would make for a more direct presence from that side of the field at the top.

49ers fan @DannyG_49 added that it could be a title for offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel instead.

Embree on Kittle

Arguably the top credential from Embree’s time with the 49ers is how Kittle has become an elite tight end. Besides wide receiver Deebo Samuel, Kittle is arguably the most important member of the San Francisco offense thanks to his receiving and blocking skills.

Embree was interviewed by NBC Sports on January 30, 2020, coming up to the 49ers’ eventual loss in Super Bowl LIV. In terms of describing Kittle, Embree is better equipped than anyone.

“The way his body is wired he has an uncanny ability to take on tackles and absorb it, but he has such good balance it doesn’t knock him over,” Embree explained. “Just learning how to use that and attacking the guy trying to tackle him I felt like would give him the opportunity to be one of those guys who are great with the ball after the catch.”

Deebo gets most of the praise at this point for his after-the-catch ability at this point, but Kittle has earned his All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections thanks to his own skills in that department.

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