Ranking the internal candidates for the 49ers' defensive coordinator job

Recent reporting suggests that the 49ers plan to fill their defensive coordinator role internally. This article will rank the internal candidates.

Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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Kris Kocurek
Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Ranking the internal candidates for the 49ers defensive coordinator job No. 1: D-Line coach Kris Kocurek

Arguably the biggest disappointment on the defense in 2023 was with the defensive line. Nick Bosa did not have a terrible year, but it was not up to his standards as one of the best edge rushers in the NFL.

The addition of Chase Young wa supposed to turn the defensive line into one of the most feared in the league, but that never really happened. This could be seen as a negative reflection on Kocurek, but perhaps it had more to do with the defensive plays being called.

Perhaps the 49ers need to give the car keys to the guy that has been the D-Line coach since Bosa's rookie year in 2019. If the 49ers want to play up to their potential next season, they need Bosa to get back to being one of the top-5 sack-getters in the NFL. Last season he ranked tied for 17th with 10.5 sacks.

The 49ers have always made their defensive line a priority. They moved away from that a little bit last season under Wilks. Hiring Kocurek would be a clear signal that the 49ers intend to return to their front seven, and specifically the front 4, being the focal point of the defense.

In the past, Kocurek has seemed content to remain in his role as a D-line coach. Shanahan has to convince him that this is what is best for the team. They need to get back to the style of defense they played under Ryans and Saleh if they want to play to their full potential and Kocurek seems like the man who can pull it off.

In sum, all three of these internal candidates have strengths they would bring to the defensive coordinator role. However, it seems more than likely that an internal hire would come from either the DL or LB room as the 49ers look to return to a front seven focus next season.

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