What exactly is Brandon Staley's job with 49ers (if he's not defensive coordinator)?

49ers fans may be wondering why Brandon Staley is even in the building if he's not the defensive coordinator?

Kyle Shanahan helped explain.

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley / Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers named Nick Sorensen as their defensive coordinator, but Brandon Staley is hanging around the building, too. Why?

There are plenty of reasons why the San Francisco 49ers went with an internal candidate to replace former defensive coordinator Steve Wilks after the team's Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last February.

Nick Sorensen, who previously served as the Niners' defensive passing game specialist under head coach Kyle Shanahan, got the nod over the many candidates who interviewed for the role.

One of those who also interviewed was former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley.

Shanahan noted that he wanted to maintain consistency with the defense that he helped build since taking over his own role in 2017, and Sorensen stems from a similar system when he was part of the Seattle Seahawks coaching staff prior to joining San Francisco in 2022. Had Staley been hired as a defensive coordinator, there'd likely have to be some meshing to his own 3-4 base defense instead of the 4-3 system the 49ers currently use.

That said, the Niners hired Staley anyway.

What is Brandon Staley's role with the 49ers?

San Francisco clearly appreciated Staley's insight and expertise despite an underperforming Chargers defense during his tenure there.

Officially, Staley is listed as the 49ers' assistant head coach. But there's an assumption that he'll play a large role behind Sorensen while also serving as insurance in case Sorensen completely flames out as a defensive play-caller.

Shanahan helped explain to reporters exactly what Staley will be doing, courtesy of 49ers Webzone:

"Nick's going to call the plays. That's the main job of a defense coordinator, is calling the defense. [Brandon] will be a huge part of game planning and doing everything on that side of the ball and helping me out in other areas. ... Brandon will be a big part of the game plans.

I'm implementing a lot of our defense here in the offseason, and during the [season], each week, preparing for teams. He's been a big part of free agency already, helping us with the draft, and will be a huge asset to our whole coaching staff."

Indeed, Staley's presence has already been felt with regard to free agency. One of the Niners' key offseason pickups, edge Leonard Floyd, played under Staley back in 2020 when both were with the Los Angeles Rams and Staley was the defensive coordinator there.

Staley no doubt played a role in that acquisition.

This behind-the-scenes coaching move could ultimately prove beneficial for Staley, who won't be under the microscope if San Francisco's talented defense struggles under Sorensen.

And, if that defense performs exceptionally well, Staley should get a chance to resurrect what has turned into an otherwise disappointing coaching career.

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