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Falcons shaking up defensive coaching staff

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This could open the door for some competition for defensive coaching jobs with the 49ers.

The Atlanta Falcons hired a new offensive coordinator on Tuesday, and they are following that up by making changes on the defensive side of the coaching staff. Sporting News NFL reporter Alex Marvez is reporting that defensive coordinator Richard Smith will not be returning as coordinator, and the team will replace defensive line coach Bryan Cox. Marvez said that it is possible Smith is moved to a different role.

Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers are still working on some options for the defensive side of their coaching staff. Marvez reported the team is targeting Robert Saleh and Jerome Henderson to serve as co-defensive coordinators. However, they could now face competition for the DC position. The 49ers were the only team without a DC, but now the Falcons have the role to fill.

The state of the 49ers defense is a tough one to figure out. They have some potential cogs to plug in, whether it be DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead up front, NaVorro Bowman in the middle, and Jimmie Ward, Eric Reid, Rashard Robinson and others on the back end. They have numerous holes still to fill, but they also need to figure out what the defense will be under the new coaching staff. Will it be 3-4 or 4-3? Will we see aggressive blitzing, or will they look for the back end to create more coverage sack opportunities?

The 49ers eventual defensive coordinator (or potentially co-coordinators) is likely going to have a lot of leeway in implementing a defense. Kyle Shanahan will be in charge of everything, but he is an offensive-minded coach. John Lynch knows a thing or two about defense, but from a coaching perspective, the defensive coordinator(s) will likely have considerable autonomy. That could make for interesting decisions in personnel evaluation and determining the 53-man roster.