Why Shanahan believes Sorensen was correct choice for 49ers' DC role

Why Shanahan believes Sorensen was correct choice for 49ers' DC role originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

ORLANDO, Fla. — When 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan decided to fire defensive coordinator Steve Wilks two days after the team’s Super Bowl loss, he already knew who was going to replace him.

Nick Sorensen was the guy. And Shanahan did not need the formality of an interview to be convinced.

Sorensen joined the 49ers’ coaching staff in 2022 in the nebulous title of defensive assistant. Last year, Sorensen was promoted to defensive passing game/nickels coach. He also spoke to the team every Thursday with an emphasis on excelling in the takeaway/giveaway column.

When asked what he heard from Sorensen that he liked, Shanahan said it was the culmination of being around him the past two seasons.

“I’ve been with him the last two years, mainly,” Shanahan said. “When you’re with somebody, it’s not really an interview that changes it, it’s being with somebody in the building every day.

“I thought he was close last year to being ready, and I think he’s even more ready now.”
Sorensen, 45, will assume standard defensive coordinator responsibilities of being in charge of organizing the game plan and calling the defense during games.

Former Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley will provide assistance for Sorensen.

When asked by NBC Sports Bay Area whether he told Staley during the interview process that he already had his defensive coordinator chosen, Shanahan answered, “Basically.”

Sorensen spent 10 seasons in the NFL as a player with the St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns. He spent his first eight seasons (2013 to 2020) as an NFL assistant coach on Pete Carroll’s staff with the Seattle Seahawks before serving as Jacksonville’s special-teams coordinator for one year.

“He’s worked with a lot of people before us that I knew, being in Seattle, being in Jacksonville, his playing career, crossing paths in a number of ways,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said the experiences of working with previous 49ers defensive coordinators DeMeco Ryans and Wilks helped prepare Sorensen for this opportunity.

“I just love where he’s at from a football mind,” Shanahan said. “Our players love him. He’s been talking to our team every Thursday, doing the ball (emphasis) meetings. Our players are used to him and it’s a great opportunity for him. We’re happy to put him in this position.”

The 49ers were the only team during the 2023 NFL season to produce more interceptions than touchdown passes allowed. They tied for the NFL-lead with 22 interceptions, while allowing just 22 touchdown passes.

San Francisco's margin of plus-10 in turnovers was tied for fifth best in the league during the 2023 season.

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