Niners Live comes to the table to address a pressing need the 49ers have been lacking in, yep, you guessed it, pass rush, featuring why the 49ers should hire Charles Haley as defensive line/pass rushing specialist coach.
The 6’5” and 255lbs Hall of Famer was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round (96th overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft. A versatile defensive player, Charles Haley began his career as a specialty outside linebacker, eventually progressing to pass rusher and finally full-fledged defensive end. During his illustrious career, which spanned 169 games, Haley amassed 100.5 sacks, 485 tackles, and 26 forced fumbles.
Haley is the first five-time Super Bowl Champion, and is one of only two such players. He was a five-time Pro-Bowler, two-time First Team All-Pro, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a 49er in 2015. Haley was not only a part of the great 49er teams of the late 80’s, but also a leader of the rival Dallas Cowboys as a member of their vintage defense during their run in the early to mid-90’s.
Former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. introduces Charles Haley for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Amid the 49ers building up a new regime, one that requires championship culture, what better candidate could be brought into that equation? The 49ers haven’t necessarily tapped into resources of their former stars/players as of late. But that’s something new General Manager John Lynch wants to change, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle saying he asked owner Jed York specifically about the involvement of alumni when he interviewed for the job.
Haley started to be more of a presence last year during this past offseason for the 49ers with the blessing of former head coach at the time Chip Kelly. Any coach would be excited to have a guy like Haley around to teach and mold young defensive lineman/pass rushers. These statements were echoed by Kelly who said, “Charles can do whatever he wants, I’m serious because I’m not telling him to leave.” I mean, what coach wouldn’t want him around? Haley’s presence and guidance was nothing but positive for a group filled with young but still raw talent. He was regularly seen sharing his plethora of knowledge, offering one-on-one technique tips to such players such as Arik Armstead and Deforest Buckner, to name a few. Via Staff Writer Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com.
One doesn’t have to go too far back in 49er history to realize the importance of having a good/great defensive line and elite pass rushers. During Coach Jim Harbaugh’s reign as head coach and under the direction of the former 49ers’ Defensive Line Coach Jim Tomsula, from 2011-2014 the 49ers’ defense racked up 153 sacks and 60 forced fumbles, ranking in the top five in overall defense three out of those four seasons. Since then, in the last two seasons, that production has seen a dramatic drop-off. The 49ers have only mustered 59 sacks and 25 forced fumbles, ranking this unit in the last half of the league in total defense both years, and ranked dead last in 2016. Via NFL.com.
This season, things will most likely get harder before they get easier for the 49ers. Starting within their own division where they will deal with the likes of quarterback Russell Wilson and elder statesmen Carson Palmer, who recently announced he’s coming back in 2017. Not to mention the promising Cal product and up-and-coming Jared Goff and the L.A. Rams, who recently hired Sean McVay. Mcvay is a great play caller and offensive mind who was instrumental in the development of quarterback Kirk Cousin and his success over the past two seasons. The 49ers, through the draft the last few seasons, have been afforded a slew of young talent on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the front seven. What wonders could a legend like Haley work leading them? Players, such as Eli Harold, Ronald Blair, also Buckner and Armstead, would gain invaluable knowledge and experience working with this master of his craft.
I’ll leave you with this:
What has come up amongst 49er fan bases around the country and baffled some fans is the fact that the 49ers haven’t utilized a lot of the old-time greats, à la Bryant Young who was just hired as a Falcons’ defensive coach; Ken Norton Jr, who is currently the Raiders’ defensive coordinator; and Jeff Ulbrich, current linebackers’ coach of the Falcons. Will General Manager John Lynch be an advocate for bringing in another legend/Hall of Famer to the culture the new 49ers’ regime is looking to establish? It’s obvious the San Francisco 49ers will not be able to compete without a good/great/consistent pass rush. Will Coach Shanahan make the right move and hire Haley? Imagine the drawing power of having one of the best to ever do it on your coaching staff? Endless possibilities for attracting free agents and top tier defensive coordinators. If the 49ers are looking to conquer their demons of lack of pass rush and much to be desired defensive culture, why not take a step in the right direction and hire mister “fear no evil” himself Charles Haley. Via Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle.
On a Niners Live side note: Recently on Niners Live, we’ve discussed: Should the 49ers Stay in a 3-4? Or Switch to a 4-3? “Endless Possibilities” and The Return of the “Fullback” and Getting Back to Their Roots
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.