A couple of weeks ago, Adam Schefter reported that 49ers defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Joe Woods was getting a contract worked out to join the Cleveland Browns as a defensive coordinator. It was all but a done deal at that point, just something to tiptoe around during the Super Bowl much like Kyle Shanahan did in 2017 when it was certain he’d go to the San Francisco 49ers. Not so fast.
Sacramento Bee reporter Chris Biderman caught up with Woods and Woods told him there still hasn’t been a decision made on if he’ll go to Cleveland. Woods says the decision will be made after the Super Bowl.
The news comes following an article running on the appropriately named Cleveland.com, where Woods talked about the transition. While Woods praised what the Browns were doing, it was a bit of a hypothetical. There wasn’t anything there to confirm he was going since he isn’t exactly allowed to talk about it, and the Browns haven’t been able to interview him yet either.
Beyond that, there’s not much in terms of a poker face you can get form the NFL. Teams are not allowed to make a formal hire until after the Super Bowl concludes. You saw this with Kyle Shanahan and the media dancing around the fact that everyone knew he was headed to San Francisco following the conclusion of his game-calling plays for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
My guess is Woods will decide to leave, though the 49ers are making a push to keep him around. If the 49ers win the Super Bowl, Robert Saleh will be coaching in San Francisco for one more year before a head coaching opportunity opens up, and Shanahan knows if Saleh turns in another defense as the 49ers had in 2019, there’s no way he won’t get hired. Woods might be the guy Shanahan wants to put in place and is maybe asking for one more year to stick around, so the succession plan isn’t so awkward.
As Kyle said, it’s not like it’s going to be hard to find a replacement, but that’s my guess on the big push to keep Woods: he’ll probably be a defensive coordinator for the 49ers if he’s willing to wait one more year.