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Should the 49ers talk to former Seahawks DC Kris Richard?

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The 49ers could always use more experience on the staff, especially someone with knowledge of the Seahawks style of defense.

The Seattle Seahawks announced some coaching changes on Tuesday, and that included hiring Ken Norton, Jr. as defensive coordinator to replace recently dismissed Kris Richard. It was part of a broader rebuilding of the coaching staff, with Pete Carroll also hiring a new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

The decision to dismiss Richard was a little surprising given his tenure with Pete Carroll. He joined him at USC as a grad assistant, and followed him to Seattle in 2010. He started as assistant defensive backs coach, then cornerbacks coach in 2011, defensive backs coach from 2012 to 2014, and defensive coordinator from 2015 to 2017. The Seahawks defense had some struggles this past year, but injuries were a big reason for that.

Three years ago, Richard Sherman offered effusive praise for his defensive coordinator. The Seahawks defense was rolling at that point, and Richard’s start as a defensive backs coach meant he spent more time with Sherman and the other members of the secondary than other players. That being said, it’s an interesting take.

“I think (Richard’s) growth with us through that process to where we are now is the reason we respect him so much. He kind of built the giant that we are now with discipline, attention to detail, always being on it and always keeping us humble and down to earth, especially in the meeting room and making sure we understand our strengths, our weaknesses, what we do well and what we don’t do well.”

In spending his entire career with Pete Carroll, Richard has also worked with San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. During Saleh’s three years in Seattle (defensive quality control coach, 2011-2013), Richard was working with the secondary. Does it make sense for the 49ers to reach out given his experience in the Seahawks system?

The 49ers defensive backs coach is Jeff Hafley, and his assistant is Daniel Bullocks. Hafley was hired in 2016 as part of Chip Kelly’s staff, but Shanahan decided to stick with him. The 49ers saw strong work from their safeties, and rookie Ahkello Witherspoon showed significant progress during his rookie season. The team will likely invest heavily in the cornerback position this offseason. Maybe it makes sense to bring in Richard as another senior defensive assistant?