49ers to Add SEC Coach With California Ties: Report

Kyle Shanahan

Getty 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan during the 2021 season opener versus the Lions.

The San Francisco 49ers are already losing one of their 2021 coaching staff members to the Southeastern Conference, as quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello is taking the offensive coordinator reins at the University of Kentucky.

But now, the 49ers are soon gaining someone from SEC Country to join Kyle Shanahan and his coaching staff.

And while this newcomer has had stops at two SEC programs, he’s got California roots.

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Who the 49ers are Soon to Add

First reported by The Athletic college football insider Bruce Feldman on Sunday, February 27, the 49ers are hiring Asauni Rufus to the coaching staff as defensive quality control coach. The Bakersfield, California native Rufus was previously on the LSU staff.

As Feldman mentioned, Rufus was with Vanderbilt before heading to Baton Rouge in his grad assistant role. He also had a previous stint with Norte Dame under then-Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly, who has since moved on to LSU.

Rufus has cut his teeth in the coaching profession by experiencing SEC football — arguably the best football conference in the collegiate realm — at a young age. But his Californian roots makes this a closet homecoming for Rufus.

Rufus Had Decorated Prep Career for State High School Powerhouse

Before Rufus wore a headset, or the Nevada Wolf Pack colors where he played collegiately, Rufus became a prized prep talent three hours and 50 minutes south of the 49ers.

Rufus was a dual-threat quarterback for Bakersfield High, where longtime Kern County prep football coach Paul Golla lauded Rufus’s leadership intangibles at such a young age in a August 2020 interview with the Bakersfield Californian.

“If we started practice at 7, he would make sure people were there at 6:45,” Golla said to the Californian’s Clay Cunningham. “Right away, his characteristics of leadership were some of the best I’ve ever been around.”

Rufus ran for 1,857 yards and threw for 1,504 while accounting for 44 total touchdowns in guiding the Drillers to the 2013 CIF state title. Rufus would additionally go on and win CIF Central Section Player of the Year.

Rufus was under-recruited in high school, though. Nevada was his only scholarship offer and 247Sports placed him as a two-star prospect for the 2014 class. But he was recruited more to play safety.

While at Nevada, he became a four-year starter from 2015-2018 — his final three seasons ending with Rufus earning All-Mountain West Conference honorable mention honors. Rufus ended his career in Reno with 340 total tackles, third most in school history.

Rufus has since been involved in the coaching ranks for four seasons. But now, he’ll get his first taste of the NFL with the 49ers.

What Rufus’s Role Would Likely be

Rufus’s new job will likely come with a more detailed-oriented approach.

For those unfamiliar with the quality control coach position, it requires the following: A coach who looks at the groupings of opposing offensive players, how they use their formations, who they substitute in and out and in shorter terms, using statistical analysis to scout an opponent at least two to three days before playing a game.

It’s been often considered an entry-level position for coaches looking to witness the NFL for the first time. In some ways, it’s the NFL version of a graduate assistant at a college program.

The 49ers originally added Klay Kubiak at the position Rufus was linked to earlier in February — who was coaching high school football in Houston. With Rufus coming on board, it could mean Kubiak will shift over to an offensive role.

Rufus becomes one of two defensive hires for the ‘Niners. Per Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network on Monday, February 28, former Jacksonville Jaguars special teams coordinator Nick Sorensen is joining the defensive staff.

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