MIAMI — On Wednesday, the majority of 49ers players and coaches spoke, but the conference hall atmosphere was far less hectic than the Opening Night swarm of Monday night. Players and coaches took their seats at their assigned tables which functioned almost as a mechanism to prevent swarming. The vast majority of those coaches spoke with the knowledge that they’ll be back in Santa Clara next season.
Joe Woods’ Browns chance
Defensive backs coach Joe Woods is the exception. He signed a one-year contract in the offseason after being fired following two years as defensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos.
Woods has been offered the position of defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns, where he’d be joining the Browns’ new head coach, and former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski.
Stefanski spent all 13 years in the NFL with the Vikings before he was offered the Browns job, and Woods spent seven years in Minnesota (2006-13) as the defensive backs coach there. On Wednesday night, it was reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network that the Browns hired Jeff Howard as their defensive backs coach (with the Vikings from 2013-19) and by Zac Jackson of The Athletic that the Browns hired former Bengals QB coach Alex Van Pelt as their offensive coordinator.
The hiring for the Browns has conspicuously lacked a defensive coordinator, and seems to point in the direction that Woods is indeed their candidate.
I asked Woods about dealing with offers while managing his coaching duties. He declined to get into detail about the offer, but spoke to his relationship with Stefanski and said both understand where the stand with each other.
“It’s not a problem at all. It happens every couple years, you have an opportunity to move on,” Woods said. “But right now, I know Kevin [Stefanski] really well, so I know where I sit with Kevin, but there’s not going to be decisions made until after the Super Bowl so I understand that, he understands that. And all my focus is just on this game, to be honest with you.”
Woods said he and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who lost out on the Browns head coaching job to Stefanski, have talked in general about coaching offers.
“Yeah, we talked about this in general,” Woods said. “I just think my prior experience as a coordinator, his experience as a coordinator, just leaning on guys that have been in that position we have those talks in general, throughout the year. You know, so that’s really it but not much more than that.”
… and on Richard Sherman’s intelligence
If Woods moves on, it will likely be his last time coaching Richard Sherman, who he’s been familiar with since he was drafted. Sherman’s defensive backs coach at Stanford University in 2010, Derek Mason, who was Woods’ assistant defensive backs coach with the Vikings from 2007-09.
It’s safe to say Woods will miss coaching Sherman if he leaves for Cleveland:
“I’ve coached guys that are really above the neck football players, a few: Antoine Winfield, Oakland with Charles Woodson, Chris Harris in Denver, but Sherm, he’s special. I mean, he understands the game at that same level. He sees things extremely quickly where he can come off the field, say, ‘Hey this happened, this happened,’ to help us make adjustments, always helping the players, whether it’s corner, safety, communicating on the field, it’s amazing.
When you sit there and actually listen to what he’s doing. I’m like, ‘Man.’ He does a great job and I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to coach him.
He has that eternal chip on the shoulder. His position coach in college [Derek Mason], coached with me. So I knew Sherm when he came out, I think his experience at Stanford being a receiver, DB, then coming out getting drafted later, I think he’s always had a chip on his shoulder. He’s always proving people wrong who have doubted him, and he’s done it for a long time. This year he bounced back from an injury and he’s having a great Pro Bowl season. And I know he’s definitely looking forward to playing this game again.”
Tevin Coleman’s status
Coleman is the only real question mark for the 49ers on Sunday. He dislocated his shoulder in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers and said Monday that he was working through getting his range of motion back and crossing a pain threshold.
On Wednesday, Shanahan said Coleman is still being evaluated but “looked good.”
“You always want to look at the health of the guys and Tevin looked good today,” Shanahan said. “So there’s no issues with his legs and he’s running very well like he always does when he’s healthy. So we’ll see as the week goes how much pain tolerance is for his shoulder.
“But just every week with backs. I mean, running backs in this league take a beating so you want to watch them throughout the week just how their legs are, how smooth they’re running. We’re not tackling or anything out there but how much do they press their blocks, how much do they hit right goal. How much can they do at full speed without having to slow down?”
Don’t stress about Joe Staley’s illness
Joe Staley was originally scheduled to speak at a podium on Wednesday night, but was switched out for Mike McGlinchey because he was apparently sick. While he was delayed, Staley was eventually available to speak to media.
According to The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, Staley said he was more concerned about being able to do a full podium session.
Update: Staley is fine. He went thru a full practice,said he had a small stomach issue afterward, but is ok now and went thru the full media session. He just didn’t know if he’d be ok for the full riser/podium treatment. https://t.co/4pba0fA3yT
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) January 30, 2020
Here’s more proof that Staley’s all good.
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) January 30, 2020