A former division rival is coming on board to the San Francisco 49ers.
Or, in the case of 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, an old co-worker of his is heading to the Bay Area.
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First reported by Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday, March 7, the franchise has hired former Seattle Seahawks assistant Brian Schneider as special teams coordinator, replacing Richard Hightower.
Schneider is among 14 additions or promotions on Shanahan’s staff. He’s making the transition south to the Bay Area. However, he and Shanahan have been in the same office before.
Shanahan’s Ties to Schneider
Nearly 20 years ago, Schneider and Shanahan were youthful assistants at UCLA.
Shanahan, then a 23-year-old, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Bruins. The now 50-year-old Schneider was a 32-year-old coaching in three areas at Westwood: Safeties, linebackers and special teams all under former Bruins head coach Bob Toledo.
Shanahan and Schneider, though, were only together for that 2003 season. Shanahan would eventually trek to the NFL where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave him his first league assistant opportunity — as offensive quality control coach in 2004.
Schneider will bring a wealth of experience to the special teams side of things in the Bay Area. Schneider was Pete Carroll’s top specialist deputy from 2010 to 2020 and won Super Bowl 48 together in Seattle. Among the talents Schneider worked with in the Pacific Northwest? Tyler Lockett.
Is Schneider the guy who can turn around what was a rather mediocre special teams unit on the 49ers? The Athletic’s David Lombardi posted that in four seasons, Schneider led a top five unit in special teams DVOA (defense adjusted value over average), but the unit began to falter from 2017 to 2019:
Yet, as Lombardi pointed out, Schneider’s units still ranked higher than the 49ers. Here’s another key Lombardi points out that could improve the special teams crew: The upcoming NFL Draft.
“It’s important to note that so much of special teams performance is roster-dependent. Brian Schneider’s best Seattle units were the early ones — Seahawks had championship depth on rookie deals. If 49ers draft well, their nine picks can help make a quality 2022 ST unit. That’s key,” Lombardi tweeted.
Other Notable Changes & Promotions
Schneider becomes the third outside hire made by Shanahan in the month of March.
On the evening of Friday, March 4, Shanahan made the surprise hire of luring former ESPN Monday Night Football color commentator Brian Griese into the open quarterback coach position.
Schneider, though, isn’t the only new assistant that comes with past Seahawks representation on his resume. Nick Sorensen also worked with Schneider from 2013 to 2020 before being named as a defensive assistant.
The third outside hire made by the 42-year-old Shanahan? Joe Graves coming on board as the assistant offensive line coach, where he’ll work with newly promoted Chris Foerster who will add run game coordinator to his coaching duties. Graves, 28, comes over from Georgia Southern University. He was previously the running backs coach for the University of Louisiana Monroe from 2019 to 2020 — where he was once Sun Belt Conference rivals with 49ers leading rusher Elijah Mitchell (Louisiana).
The complete list of changes and promotions can be read below via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News.