49ers add experienced assistant to defensive coaching staff

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Kyle Madson
·1 min read
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The San Francisco 49ers’ hire of defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is a bit of a gamble given that he only started coaching in 2017 – two years after retiring from the NFL. One way to help out the first-time coordinator is by surrounding him with experienced coaches. San Francisco is doing just that by bringing in former New York Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport had the first report.

Bettcher, 42, quickly made a name for himself in the coaching ranks after orchestrating a pair of top defenses for the Cardinals in his first two seasons as a defensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016. His third NFL season was Bruce Arians’ final one in Arizona, and while they finished 19th in points allowed, they were still No. 6 in total defense to make it three top-six finishes in three seasons.

Arians’ departure from Arizona left Bettcher without a job, but he quickly found one with the New York Giants. He struggled to make the personnel work with a rebuilding Giants club though and was again fired along with head coach Pat Shurmur after New York went 4-12 and finished No. 30 in points allowed and 25th in total defense.

After sitting out the 2020 campaign, Bettcher is back to help assist Ryans as a senior defensive assistant. His specific role is unknown, but San Francisco will need to retool its defensive staff with Robert Saleh now coaching the Jets.