It took 12 days, but Chip Kelly has reportedly contracted the services of a defensive coordinator—Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea reported Tuesday the 49ers have hired former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil to fill the same role with the Red and Gold.
Maiocco confirmed the hire via a league source, he said.
O’Neil, 37, takes over a defense which was led last season by coordinator Eric Mangini, under first-year head coach Jim Tomsula—San Francisco’s defense ranked 29th overall last season, and 18th in scoring, allowing an average of 24.2 points per game. During his past two seasons with the Browns, O’Neil’s defenses have ranked 27th and 23rd overall, and Cleveland was ninth in opponents scoring.
Before he was a coordinator, O’Neil served one season as the Buffalo Bills outside linebackers coach—during that season, the Bills posted a franchise record 57 sacks. He spent four seasons with the New York Jets as an assistant defensive backs coach, before he arrived in Buffalo.
In the end, O’Neil was selected over internal candidate, and outside linebackers coach, Jason Tarver, who was considered Kelly’s favorite in-house coach to fill the role. Tarver will continue to serve the team in the same capacity, Maiocco reported.
Chip Kelly is of course notoriously known for his up-tempo offense, the byproduct of which, was his defensive units defending more plays than any other NFL team during his three-year tenure as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Before his received his walking-papers in Week 17 this season, Kelly’s Eagles had defended a league-high 1,148 plays, second-most at 1,113 in 2014, and the most in 2013 with 1,150 defensive plays.
“I’ve also never met a defensive player that says, ‘Coach, I want you to possess the ball for the entire game so I don’t have to play,’” Kelly told the media last week at his introductory press conference. “I want guys that on the defensive side of the football of the San Francisco 49ers can’t wait to get on the field and embrace the opportunity to get out there and play.”
Kelly also indicated plans to have his team run a 3-4 defense, similar to what the 49ers have used in recent seasons. The team is yet to officially announce any of Kelly’s hirings, but former Detroit Lions running backs coach Curtis Modkins is expected to be announced as offensive coordinator.
David Barclay is the 49ers Insider for byteclay.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DJamesIII