NFL rumors: 49ers' Joe Woods finalist for Browns defensive coordinator

Marcus White

Even after the Cleveland Browns hired former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as head coach, a 49ers coach is linked to an opening in Cleveland. 

Joe Woods, the 49ers' defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator, is a finalist to become the Browns' defensive coordinator, NFL Media's Jim Trotter reported Tuesday.

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Woods, 49, has been an assistant coach in the NFL since 2004. He was the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator from 2017 through '18. This season marked his first with the 49ers, and San Francisco finished the regular season tied for 10th in passes defensed (74) after finishing 32nd (39) in 2018. 

[RELATED: Mitchell sees stellar growth from 49ers' D-Line in return]

The Browns hired Stefanski on Monday, and Cleveland interviewed 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as part of the search. Saleh's colleagues on and off the 49ers believe he has the makings of a future head coach, but 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan admitted to reporters Monday he was excited to have Saleh on his staff heading into the 2020 season.

"Saleh will be a head coach in this league, could've been one this year," Shanahan said at the time. "Most likely, he'll be one next year. But he's going to have the right opportunity come around for him. It's just a matter of time. Just very happy we're going to have him, going into next year."

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of "49ers Central" all week (6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday)

Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for "49ers Pregame Live," with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.

NFL rumors: 49ers' Joe Woods finalist for Browns defensive coordinator originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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