The San Francisco 49ers formally announced nine more assistants joining Kyle Shanahan’s coaching staff. That brings the total to 18, including Shanahan’s administrative assistant. Here is the full list of additions to the staff:
Richard Hightower: Special Teams Coordinator
Robert Saleh: Defensive Coordinator
Jeff Hafley: Defensive Backs
Johnny Holland: Linebackers
Marquis Johnson: Strength & Conditioning Assistant
Dustin Perry: Strength & Conditioning Assistant
Bobby Slowik: Defensive Quality Control
Jason Tarver: Senior Defensive Assistant
Jeff Zgonina: Defensive Line
DC Robert Saleh becomes official after Kyle Shanahan confirmed it this morning. The interesting change is Jason Tarver. He was linebackers coach last year, but is purely a “senior defensive assistant” this year. He spent three years as the Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator, so he has some play-calling experience. That will come in handy for Saleh, who has never been more than a linebackers coach.
Here are bios on each of the new assistants, courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers PR department.
Hightower, 36, rejoins the 49ers as the team’s special teams coordinator, having served as San Francisco’s assistant special teams coach in 2015. He enters his 11th year in the NFL after spending the 2016 season as assistant special teams coach with the Chicago Bears. In 2014, he was as an offensive quality control coach with the Cleveland Browns. Prior to Cleveland, Hightower served as the assistant special teams coach with the Washington Redskins from 2010-13, where he worked under longtime NFL special teams coordinator Danny Smith. He also spent two seasons (2012-13) as the assistant defensive backs coach in Washington. Before his time with the Redskins, he was the wide receivers coach at the University of Minnesota during the 2009 season. Hightower began his coaching career as an assistant with the Houston Texans from 2006-07, before being elevated to special teams assistant in 2008 where he worked with Joe Marciano, a 30-year, veteran special teams coach.
Saleh (SAHL-uh), 38, enters his first season as the 49ers defensive coordinator after spending the previous three seasons (2014-16) as the linebackers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Prior to Jacksonville, he spent three years (2011-13) as a defensive quality control coach for the Seattle Seahawks. Before his time in Seattle, Saleh spent six years with the Houston Texans, serving as a defensive intern (2005), defensive quality control coach (2006-08) and assistant linebackers coach (2009-10). He began his coaching career at the collegiate level, serving as an assistant coach at Michigan State University (2002-03), Central Michigan University (2004) and the University of Georgia (2005). A native of Dearborn, MI, Saleh played collegiately as a tight end at Northern Michigan University.
Hafley, 37, enters his second season as the 49ers defensive backs coach after spending the previous two seasons (2014-15) in the same role with the Cleveland Browns. Prior to joining the Browns, Hafley spent two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the team’s secondary and safeties coach (2013) and assistant defensive backs coach (2012). Before entering the NFL ranks, Hafley served as the secondary coach at Rutgers University in 2011. Prior to Rutgers, Hafley spent five seasons at the University of Pittsburgh, coaching the secondary (2008-10) and as a defensive assistant/cornerbacks coach (2006-07). He also spent four seasons at the University of Albany, where he was the defensive backs coach (2004-05) and defensive tackles coach (2002-03). Hafley began his coaching career as the running backs coach at Worcester Polytechnic University in 2001.
Holland, 51, enters his first season as the 49ers linebackers coach after spending the 2016 season as the inside linebackers coach for the Cleveland Browns. Prior to Cleveland, he spent three years in the Canadian Football League, coaching linebackers with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2013) and B.C. Lions (2014-15). Holland joined the CFL after spending one season (2011) as linebackers coach for the United Football League’s Virginia Destroyers and one year (2012) as linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders. Prior to Virginia, Holland spent five seasons (2006-10) as linebackers coach for the Houston Texans. He joined the Texans after spending three years with the Detroit Lions, serving as a defensive assistant coach (2003-04) and linebackers coach (2005). Prior to Detroit, Holland spent three years with the Seattle Seahawks as assistant special teams/assistant strength and conditioning coach (2000) and linebackers coach (2001-02). He received his NFL coaching start with the Green Bay Packers in 1995, where he served as a defensive quality control coach (1995-97), special teams coach (1998) and linebackers coach (1999). Originally a 2nd round (41st overall) pick of the Green Bay Packers in the 1987 NFL Draft, Holland appeared in 103 games over seven seasons at linebacker with Green Bay. During his career, he recorded 476 tackles, 15 fumble recoveries, nine interceptions and 3.5 sacks. A native of Hempstead, TX, Holland was a four-year letterman at Texas A&M (1984-87).
Johnson, 31, enters his first season as a 49ers strength & conditioning assistant. He joins San Francisco following one year (2016) as an assistant strength coach at the University of Tennessee. Prior to Tennessee, Johnson was the head strength coach at Memorial (Port Arthur, TX) High School (2014-16), West Brook (Beaumont, TX) High School (2012-14) and Galena Park (TX) High School (2010-12). He also assisted with the football and track teams at each school. He spent three years (2008-10) at Eastern Michigan University where he began as a graduate assistant before moving to the school’s interim head strength & conditioning coach. A native of Houston, TX, Johnson played collegiately at Prairie View A&M University (2004-08) as a tight end before moving to defensive end. He received his bachelor’s degree from Prairie View A&M in human performance and his master’s degree from Eastern Michigan in administration.
Perry, 31, enters his first season with the 49ers as an assistant strength & conditioning coach. Prior to the 49ers, he spent four years (2012-15) as an assistant strength & conditioning coach at the University of Minnesota. Before joining the Golden Gophers, Perry worked with Josh Heupel's The 14 Foundation and its Day of Champions event while serving as the head strength & conditioning coach for the program. In addition, Perry served as a strength & conditioning coach at Marcellus (MI) High School in 2008. A 2009 graduate of Western Michigan University, Perry also has a master's degree in applied kinesiology from Minnesota.
Slowik, 29, enters his first season as the 49ers defensive quality control coach. He spent four years with the Washington Redskins organization, one season as a video assistant (2010) and three seasons as a defensive assistant (2011-13). A native of Green Bay, WI, Slowik played wide receiver at Michigan Tech University and earned a degree in biomedical engineering. He is the son of former NFL defensive coordinator Bob Slowik.
A veteran of 20 coaching seasons, Tarver, 42, enters his 13th season with the 49ers and his first as the team’s senior offensive assistant. The 16-year NFL veteran has previously served as a defensive coordinator at the professional and collegiate levels. Tarver spent the 2016 season as the 49ers outside linebackers coach and was the team’s senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach in 2015. He served as the Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator from 2012-14, after spending the 2011 season as the co-defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach at Stanford University. During his first tenure with the 49ers, which spanned from 2001-10, Tarver spent time as an offensive quality control coach (2001-03), assistant running backs/offensive assistant coach (2004) and outside linebackers coach (2005-10). Before joining the 49ers staff, Tarver spent three years as a graduate assistant with UCLA (1998-2000). He worked primarily with defensive backs, while also assisting with special teams. Tarver played football at West Valley Junior College in Saratoga, CA (1994-95), before coaching the team’s linebackers, defensive backs and special teams for two seasons.
Zgonina (ska-KNEE-na), 46, enters his first season as the 49ers defensive line coach after spending the 2016 season as the assistant defensive line coach for the New York Giants. He entered the coaching ranks in 2013, and spent three seasons (2013-15) as an assistant defensive coach for the Houston Texans. Originally a 7th round draft choice (185th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1993 NFL Draft, Zgonina appeared in 219 games (67 starts) over 17 seasons and registered 303 tackles, 26.0 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception. He also appeared in nine career postseason games and was a member of the St. Louis Rams Super Bowl XXXIV championship team. A native of Chicago, IL, Zgonina attended Purdue University (1989-92), where he was selected First-Team All-Big Ten and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.