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Jason Tarver leaves Kyle Shanahan coaching staff to be Vanderbilt defensive coordinator

The 49ers senior defensive assistant is headed back to college.

It’s a busy day for Jimmy Garoppolo, but there is some other news for Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers. Vanderbilt University announced on Thursday that Jason Tarver is leaving the 49ers to become the Commodores defensive coordinator.

Tarver spent last season as a senior defensive assistant on Robert Saleh’s staff. In 2016, he served as outside linebackers coach, and in 2015 he was senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach. Prior to that he was Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator from 2012 to 2014. Tarver spent the 2011 season as Stanford’s defensive coordinator, so he does have some experience on the college level.

I am still not entirely clear what Tarver’s role was last season under Robert Saleh. I assume he helped a bit with game-planning and preparing the team for the week ahead. Saleh had never served as a defensive coordinator previously, so having an experienced assistant likely helped take some things off Saleh’s plate.

The 49ers had recently hired Ken Norton, Jr. to serve as inside linebackers coach and assistant head coach, but he left quickly to join the Seattle Seahawks as defensive coordinator. They likely will bring on at least one more defensive assistant. Johnny Holland joined the team as outside linebackers coach and run game specialist. They do not have an inside linebackers coach, so we’ll wait and see if someone gets that role, or if Holland takes on the whole linebacker corps. One possibility could be an internal promotion for defensive quality control coach DeMeco Ryans, who drew interest from the Tennessee Titans this offseason.