NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers are bringing in one of Kansas City’s top assistants for an interview.

The San Francisco 49ers are interviewing Kansas City Chiefs defensive backs coach David Merritt for their vacant defensive coordinator role, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on Wednesday.

Merritt, a longtime assistant of Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, has an extensive coaching history, having been in his current role with Kansas City since 2019.

However, Merritt has been much more than a defensive backs coach; after a short playing career as a linebacker in the NFL, the 52-year-old began as an outside linebackers coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1997.

From there, he’s been a defensive ends, defensive line, linebackers, quality control, and secondary coach before transitioning to the defensive backs coach under his current role.

Merritt has been a five-time Super Bowl champion, having won three with the Chiefs and two while serving as an assistant on the New York Giants staff from 2001-17.

Under Merritt’s tutelage, the Chiefs have seen several defensive backs develop into starters, such as 2020 fourth-round pick L’Jarius Sneed and rookie cornerbacks Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams.

Previously, Merritt coached defensive back Tyrann Mathieu during his early years with the Chiefs and safety Budda Baker during a short stint with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018.

During his time with the Giants, Merritt helped coach several Pro Bowlers, including All-Pro safety Antrel Rolle, safety Landon Collins, and cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Janoris Jenkins.

In addition to requesting an interview for Merritt, the 49ers completed their interview with defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks for the same vacant defensive coordinator position today, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

As a part of their defensive coordinator search, the 49ers are required to interview at least two external minority candidates in compliance with the Rooney Rule, but general manager John Lynch affirmed that San Francisco will have a genuine interest in all of their interviewees.

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

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