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Lynch details what 49ers seeking in next defensive coordinator

Lynch details what 49ers seeking in next defensive coordinator originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley and two unknown minority coaches are going up against two current members of the 49ers’ staff to fill the team’s defensive coordinator vacancy.

General manager John Lynch said on Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine that the goal is to maintain the framework of what the 49ers have implemented with their defense over the past seven years.

“We like who we are, what we do as a defense,” Lynch said. “I don’t think we want to have some wholesale departure from that. We like the style that we play, a four-down front that attacks.

“Having said that, I think you always have to evolve and you look at an opportunity like this to look into the different ways that we can evolve. Oftentimes, a lot of these ideas come up in these interviews.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan already has interviewed Nick Sorensen, the 49ers’ defensive passing game specialist, for the job to replace the fired Steve Wilks.

Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area that he would interview 49ers defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks this week for the opening, too.

In addition, the 49ers must interview two outside minority candidates, per NFL rules designed to make high-profile positions more inclusive.

“We won’t just check a box with that,” Lynch said. “It’s an opportunity. Perhaps there’s a candidate out there that blows us away.

“If anything, we’ll learn a lot from that person and you never know. What I found is sometimes it’s two years, three years down the line when you say, ‘Hey, remember when we interviewed that guy?’ We’ll take that seriously.”

Shanahan said he expected the process to wrap up toward the end of the week.

Staley is the most well-known of the candidates. He served three seasons as Chargers head coach and was fired after going 24-25, including 0-1 in the postseason, in three seasons.

He comes from the Vic Fangio system. Fangio was the 49ers’ defensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh. Staley coached under Fangio in Chicago and Denver before he spent one season as the Rams defensive coordinator.

When a reporter suggested Staley might not fit what the 49ers are seeking from their next defensive coordinator, Lynch responded, “I wouldn’t say that. Brandon, he’s a really bright dude.”

Lynch said he took part in the recent interview with Staley.

While Lynch said Wilks did a “really nice job” in his one season running the 49ers’ defense, Lynch acknowledged that the fit of Wilks on his staff had been “gnawing at (Shanahan) for a while.”

Shanahan met with Wilks three days after the 49ers’ loss in Super Bowl LVIII to the Kansas City Chiefs to inform him of the decision. Wilks came to the 49ers after serving as the Carolina Panthers interim coach to finish the 2022 season.

“But I don’t think because of that you never say, ‘We’re not going outside again,’” Lynch said. “We have open minds, but we do know there are certain core principles we will always have on the defensive side.”

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