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Lovie Smith targeting Hardy Nickerson for Illinois defensive coordinator job

Fooch's note: Looks like it will be happening

The San Francisco 49ers coaching staff has been filling out over the last month and a half, but it might already be set to lose someone. The Football Scoop is reporting new Illinois head coach Lovie Smith is targeting 49ers inside linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson for the Illini's defensive coordinator role.

The 49ers hired Hardy Nickerson back in late January, so that would be about six weeks of time with the team before going to a new job. While I am excited about the idea of Nickerson coaching the 49ers inside linebackers, I also would not blame him for leaving quickly for a better opportunity. The 49ers recently hired Tem Lukabu and Vince Oghobaase, and both coaches had joined a new job within the last two or three months. This kind of thing happens frequently, so I would have no hard feelings for Nickerson.

The potential move to Illinois makes sense for Nickerson. He worked with Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay, so they have the history. And while an NFL job is a big deal, a college defensive coordinator role would be a big step forward for Nickerson. Getting a chance to devise a defense, and really just figure out his defensive philosophy likely could prove more valuable than coaching the 49ers inside linebackers. Maybe 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil would delegate more opportunities to his position coaches, but it would not surprise me to see Nickerson take the Illinois job.