San Francisco 49ers v Minnesota Vikings
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The defensive coordinator search is finally over.

The wait is finally over. The San Francisco 49ers have finally hired a defensive coordinator. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Niners plan to hire passing game specialist Nick Sorensen as their new defensive coordinator.

That’s not the only splash move the team made. Former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley is also joining Kyle Shanahan’s staff. Per Schefter and Jeremey Fowler, Staley will likely be the assistant head coach.

Sorensen has been with San Francisco for two seasons, so he should know what Shanahan expects. An in-house hire always felt like the likeliest after Kyle Shanahan spoke about Steve Wilks’ issues with adapting to the team’s scheme. And while he lacks experience as a defensive coordinator, Sorensen did call plays as a special teams coordinator.

Sorensen was also a long-time assistant with the Seattle Seahawks, where Dan Quinn — a coach who Shanahan admires and always speaks glowingly about — ran a predominant zone scheme that got pressure with four players up front. Sorensen spent time in Seattle from 2013-2020, where he was the secondary coach in his latter years.

When Sorensen was a defensive assistant in 2022, as the article’s headline photo shows, he worked with multiple positions — including linebackers. That familiarity and comfort likely went a long way, as he’s a known commodity in the locker room.

Staley replaced Anthony Lynn in Los Angeles, and he’ll do the same in San Francisco. His play-calling experience and history as a defensive coordinator should help ease Sorensen’s inexperience as a first-time DC. I wonder if Staley’s scheme wasn’t what Shanahan was looking for. During the NFL Combine, general manager John Lynch said, “We have an open mind, but we do know there’s certain core principles that we’re going to always be on the defensive side. I wouldn’t rule him out because of that.”

Coming on the staff will help Staley learn what the 49ers are looking for while he can aid Sorensen. So, Shanahan and the 49ers made two significant hires, and now the coordinator watch is officially over.

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