Candidate No. 3: Cory Undlin, Secondary coach
Could Cory Undlin be the secret favorite to be promoted as the defensive coordinator? When you consider how good the pass defense has been despite some key injuries as well as the development of the 49ers’ young talent in the secondary, he might just be the favorite.
This is Undlin’s second season with San Francisco, and we’ve seen the following strides from a positional group long considered the weakest in the defense:
- Emmanuel Moseley and Talanoa Hufanga both have progressed into exceptional talents, with the latter earning a first-team All-Pro nod in his second season.
- Strong progression from young corner Deommodore Lenoir, who’s been raw but still had a lot of good signs in 2022.
- Using preseason signing Tashaun Gipson for the injured Jimmie Ward, with the former playing to such a high standard that Ward was moved to nickel corner upon his return.
While Undlin was not a success in his first stint as defensive coordinator (with the Detroit Lions in 2020), he’s definitely in a much better place to succeed in San Francisco. His track record in the last two years has shown a secondary that’s gone from the liability in the defense to a positional group that’s more than held its own.
Granted, Undlin has had the help of a big free-agent signing in Charvarius Ward, who has performed very strongly to expectations in his first season with the 49ers, but he’s still he can develop raw talent and get the secondary going.
If the Niners decide to promote internally, Undlin might just be the guy for the job.