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Jeff Hafley talks about coaching Darrelle Revis, what he looks for in a CB, & transition to Robert Saleh’s system

The 49ers defensive backs coach was Matt Maiocco’s latest guest on his podcast. Here’s the timestamps. You can listen to the interview here.

San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley has been around several defensive philosophies, or just football disciplines in general. Playing as a wide receiver, he transitioned over to defense and seems to be jumping from one coaching tree to another. He went from Greg Schiano’s defense with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Pettine’s defense in Cleveland, and then to Jim O’Neil. That’s quite the many jumps, but it probably gives Hafley a good gauge of both 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes because of the difference. Hafley said as much on Matt Maiocco’s latest podcast:

“They are very different. When you first start, it’s hard, because it’s staying up late at night studying, so I can learn it well enough to teach it. But from Coach Schiano in Tampa, to Mike Pettine, to that whole Rex Ryan system, very different. And then, back with Jim O’Neil my first season in San Francisco. It was easy because it’s what we ran in Cleveland. And then now, with coach Saleh, it’s very different because now we’re playing three-deep. So I’ve been in different systems all along the way. You know at times it’s like, “man I wish I had three years in the same system.” but now I’ve kind of formulated my own thoughts and my own ideas and I think down the road it’s going to help me.”

Sure learning all these different philosophies is just as maddening as a quarterback with revolving offensive coordinators, but what it does is give a great education and insight to what about each system works (yes, even Jim O’Neil’s). If Hafley were ever to take an offer to be a defensive coordinator, he has an opportunity to make a defense that is all his own. It also shows you that coaches have just as much difficulty learning a playbook as the players do, maybe moreso since they are the voice of the coordinator at points and don’t have time to ask a question about a particular scheme.

The rest of the interview is interesting. I’ve pasted the time stamps below. You can listen using the image above or go to the full interview here.

06:00 - An east coaster adjusting to life in the Bay Area
06:20 - How a wide receiver (Hafley’s college position) becomes a defensive backs coach
08:02 - If you’re a coach, you’re a coach, regardless of position
09:12 - Coaching progression through colleges
09:47 - What he learned coaching Dareellel Revis
11:55 - Ideas of proper progressions a cornerback should make
13:00 - Carryover working under various defensive philosophies/coaches
14:36 - Coaching a 3-deep system
16:45 - What makes Richard Sherman the prototype for Robert Saleh’s defense
18:16 - How involved was Hafley in the 49ers organization’s decision to go after Sherman
19:30 - Sherman’s impact as a coach
21:13 - Feelings of DBs after offseason program
23:07 - Thoughts on Jimmie Ward/Ward’s injury history
25:40 - Safety thoughts
27:33 - K’Waun Williams thoughts
28:50 - Thoughts on the new safeties/cornerbacks coming in
29:54 - What a coach does in the dead points of the season between June-July