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Report: Jim O’Neil to be 49ers defensive coordinator


49ers head coach Chip Kelly has reportedly found his defensive coordinator.

Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reports that the 49ers have decided to hire Jim O’Neil to fill the role. O’Neil served in the same position with the Browns for the last two years. The Browns dropped from 9th in points allowed in 2014 to 29th in 2015.

O’Neil worked under head coach Mike Pettine in Cleveland after also serving on the staffs for the Jets and Bills when Pettine was with those teams. O’Neil played high school football for Pettine’s father, so it’s a relationship that goes back a long way. 

His charge with the 49ers will be devising a defense that can improve on last year’s results while being asked to be on the field more than other units thanks to the uptempo offensive scheme employed by Kelly. The Eagles defense was on the field for the most plays in the league in two of Kelly’s three seasons in Philly and they came in second during Kelly’s other year on the job.

Maiocco also reports that the 49ers have hired former Dolphins running backs coach Jeff Nixon as the team’s tight ends coach. The 49ers have not formally announced any hires yet, but these two additions should push that announcement closer as Kelly has reportedly put together most of his staff at this point.

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88 Responses to “Report: Jim O’Neil to be 49ers defensive coordinator”
  1. bryantrulen says: Jan 26, 2016 6:04 PM

    Maybe Mangini will replace him in Cleveland?

  2. firerogergoodell says: Jan 26, 2016 6:05 PM


  3. pamperpro says: Jan 26, 2016 6:09 PM

    Pulling names out of a hat.

  4. seatownballers says: Jan 26, 2016 6:10 PM

    Kinda like the great hire for their offensive coordinator that was the lions running back coach, because their running game was so good this last year.
    Chip will get Kaep hurt running a college system and he’ll be out by week 9.
    Keep shining those rings, that’s all ya got.
    Who has got it better then 5-11?

  5. tommykramer9 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:12 PM

    haha huh, who? Come on, really??

  6. headwoundharry says: Jan 26, 2016 6:13 PM

    You know it’s bad when you have to cherry pick from the Browns staff.

  7. heyguru69 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:14 PM

    They’re going to have to pick up some defensive help on the free agent market. I realize the NFL isn’t Oregon, but Kelly had defenses there that could still play. If he can get the right athletes with the right mindset, they can still be respectable. Maybe.

  8. ctiggs says: Jan 26, 2016 6:15 PM

    Why would we do this?

  9. Emmanuel Goldstein says: Jan 26, 2016 6:17 PM

    Oh good grief. It’s as if the 49ers are aiming for the first overall draft pick in 2017.

    Jed York says “O’Neil got the Browns to 29th in points allowed?.. Hire that guy NOW!!”

  10. jnovi86 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:18 PM

    great, we all know the high octane powerhouse defense of the browns…..

  11. swaggyy says: Jan 26, 2016 6:19 PM

    The name Jim generally does not work out in SF

  12. thebirdofprey says: Jan 26, 2016 6:21 PM

    Vic Fangio is so highly thought in NFL circles, players and fans.

    Jim O’Neil, not so much.

  13. raiderrob21 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:26 PM

    Who? Well, someone had to take the job!

  14. thesmartest1 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:26 PM

    Billy Davis is who he first hired. You can’t make this stuff up.

  15. ballboy48 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:28 PM

    Look at what Paul Kruger said about him. The guy sticks with a defense that doesn’t adapt to the team they are playing, but rather just a scheme for every team. This guy is terrible.

  16. dablitz2 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:29 PM

    If anyone thinks this is an upgrade over Mangini, they haven’t paid attention to O’Neil’s work. He absolutely destroyed that defense. The players pretty much admitted they didn’t think he knew what he was doing. I cannot believe this is who Kelly would hire.

  17. tb12bestqbevah says: Jan 26, 2016 6:33 PM

    I don’t get it. How is this an upgrade over Mangini??

  18. kneedragr says: Jan 26, 2016 6:35 PM

    He takes over the 9th rated defense and turns them into the 29th rated defense? This guy sucks big time.

  19. michaeljohnlee says: Jan 26, 2016 6:35 PM

    My condolences San Fran.

    O’Neil kept calling tight man coverage even with guys who better at off coverage. He had pass rushers two gap to stop the run and had fast aggressive linebackers sit back passively and try to read the play.

    But other than that he worked out fine.

  20. kneedragr says: Jan 26, 2016 6:35 PM

    Id take Mangenius over this loser any day.

  21. daytontriangles says: Jan 26, 2016 6:36 PM

    Makes sense.

    Only someone from the Browns would see coaching the York run 49ers as a step up.

  22. clownsfan says: Jan 26, 2016 6:36 PM


  23. despenc925 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:39 PM

    darn…with all these changes, I cant sell my SBL license fast enough! what a waste of money

  24. killitandeatit says: Jan 26, 2016 6:42 PM

    Just remember there are 32 NFL teams,mkay?

  25. braceyourselffor12 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:44 PM

    Either this is just a smoke screen and we intend to snag one of the remaining DC from either Super Bowl team or Kelly truly has no grasp of the defensive side of the ball.

    Dumpster Diving, the 2016 49ers coaching search.

  26. eagleswin says: Jan 26, 2016 6:49 PM

    It was either him or Billy Davis. Good luck.

  27. trollaikman8 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:51 PM

    Ed O’Neil? Polk High?

  28. pocketcow says: Jan 26, 2016 6:53 PM

    It’s probably a good career move for him. I mean if you were already at the bottom, it’s not like the Chip system could make you look worse. Chip might have trouble attracting the good D coordinators due to how he runs his offense, so guys like this with almost nothing to lose were probably the only options available.

  29. joecool16 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:54 PM

    Skins fan here. It could be worse, you could be stuck with a lousy defensive coordinator like Joe Barry who coached the Lions thru the 0-16 season allowing 517 points. He was out coached nearly every game this season for the skins. So San Fran it could be worse.

  30. vancouversportsbro says: Jan 26, 2016 6:57 PM

    Ed O’ Neil’s brother?

  31. jjfootball says: Jan 26, 2016 7:08 PM

    WHO ?

  32. doggz109 says: Jan 26, 2016 7:09 PM

    Well…..not every team can have Wade Phillips.

  33. Lou Stools says: Jan 26, 2016 7:09 PM

    Could be worse . . . at least he won’t be living in Pittsburgh.

  34. jsmith563 says: Jan 26, 2016 7:10 PM

    SF Browns have no chance with the bottom feeder coaching staff

  35. brownsmyteam says: Jan 26, 2016 7:10 PM

    As a lifelong browns fan…. I know …save the tears… I feel sorry for you 9rs fans.
    Once Pettine stepped away from the defense and let O’Neil run it, the wheels came off.
    This guy shouldn’t even be coaching the cheerleaders.

  36. ReligionIsForIdiots says: Jan 26, 2016 7:12 PM

    Wow. This is scraping the bottom of the barrel. Can’t say I’m surprised it’s been hard for Chip to find guys who want to work with him.

  37. kosarkid says: Jan 26, 2016 7:15 PM

    O’neil was fired from the Bills and Browns. This makes no sense. Mangini was a far better DC than this clown.

  38. scottster63 says: Jan 26, 2016 7:16 PM

    There is a trend going on in as much as Kelly under performed last year, just like this guy. I guess the 9ers are into second chances.

  39. psubeerman21 says: Jan 26, 2016 7:18 PM

    Bravo is the poster that speculated it may be hard to get a good DCor with the offense they run. 100% the issue. Any defense should be prepared to spend a lot of time on the field, even when the offense is doing well.

  40. george1859 says: Jan 26, 2016 7:27 PM

    No one can, or will ever win in Cleveland. I mean NO ONE.
    It’s a curse.
    O’Neil is a great choice for SF.

  41. sniffy4 says: Jan 26, 2016 7:32 PM

    Oh good, retreads from the worst team in the league.

  42. sniffy4 says: Jan 26, 2016 7:33 PM

    This is what Jed York hath wrought: retreads up the wazoo. We had a decent coaching staff and you fired it dumkoff.

  43. yorkmustgo says: Jan 26, 2016 7:39 PM

    Well this feels like settling because they couldn’t get anybody better. Like when the 9ers hired Eric Mangini… and Geep Chryst… and Jim Tomsula… and Mike Singletary… and Jimmy Raye… and Dennis Erickson… and…

  44. badmoonrison says: Jan 26, 2016 7:43 PM

    I’ve been reading PFT for years and I can honestly say I’ve ever read an article with 100% anti posts for a coaching hire. You usually get at least 1 positive spin. Wow. It’s gotten this bad for the red and gold.
    There are a lot of dusty unworn 9er jerseys out there. Sad indeed.

  45. theuncletodd says: Jan 26, 2016 7:45 PM


  46. sportsguy707 says: Jan 26, 2016 7:46 PM

    I like the Chip Kelly hire. The DC hire —– not so much – smh

  47. therealtrenches says: Jan 26, 2016 7:58 PM

    ctiggs asks:

    “Why would we do this?”

    As an Eagles fan, let me tell you right now, you’ll find yourself asking that question a lot.

  48. haslamdrinkshisownpee says: Jan 26, 2016 7:59 PM

    I think the Browns were the 29th ranked defense. Maybe the Niners consider that to be something to strive for.

  49. southpaw79 says: Jan 26, 2016 8:04 PM

    Unless this is a ploy to bring in Pettine, me no likey.

  50. pftbro says: Jan 26, 2016 8:05 PM

    Good GAWWWWDDDDDD. This guy shouldn’t be working again until 2020, then be a beer vendor. Good luck SF. you deserve better as a great old franchise…..

  51. brenenostler says: Jan 26, 2016 8:07 PM


  52. coltzfan166 says: Jan 26, 2016 8:08 PM

    Wow, did Billy Davis turn him down or something?

  53. sbellare3 says: Jan 26, 2016 8:12 PM

    Chip got rid of Mangini in favor of the guy, lol. Probably doesn’t want anyone with head coaching experience on his staff undermining his bad decisions.

  54. barillasb says: Jan 26, 2016 8:14 PM

    If you want to be mediocre then you get that, we went a step below that…from 9th to 29…interesting

  55. tanstewie says: Jan 26, 2016 8:15 PM

    As a browns fan I can say I’m shocked. I really thought this guy would have to go to a middle of the road college team to get a position coaching job. I thought he’d never coach again on the NFL, he’s horrendous and had to be bailed out time and time again. Manginis forgotten more than this guy knows. Wow!! First chip hired pat shurmur in Philly who was the worst browns coach ever and now he hired O’Neil who was the worst browns DC ever. Wow!

  56. figure8v8racer says: Jan 26, 2016 8:22 PM

    All you Idiots that can’t read should of stayed in school. It says the Browns defense went from 9th in points allowed to 29th in points allowed that means the defense improved by 20 spots LEARN TO READ YOU LIBERAL MORONS

  57. realest99 says: Jan 26, 2016 8:35 PM

    HC: Chip Kelly
    OC: I forgot his name
    DC: I don’t even know him

    I’m shocked.

  58. realest99 says: Jan 26, 2016 8:39 PM

    Hey figure8v8racer,

    The browns defense is 29th in the league for points against. They are ranked in the bottom you idiot. Learn how to read.

  59. blackman510 says: Jan 26, 2016 8:40 PM

    Maybe you should check the stats before calling everyone idiots, kinda makes you look like the biggest one.

  60. famundacheese says: Jan 26, 2016 8:40 PM

    No one could succeed as chip’s DC. They are on the field to much. Navarro Bowman will have close to 200 tackles this year.

  61. barillasb says: Jan 26, 2016 8:50 PM

    hey figure 8v….relax man….I’m sure that’s not the 1st time someone told you that.

  62. suhmonster90 says: Jan 26, 2016 9:06 PM

    This must mean Chip plans to call plays on both sides of the ball.

  63. barillasb says: Jan 26, 2016 9:17 PM

    I checked the stats and the Browns were better than the 49ers in some Defensive stats, this isn’t that huge upgrade one would want considering the up tempo the offense will have. I think when you hear the Cleveland Browns you think of a team that is mediocre, but the 49ers sure weren’t leading the NFL or even top 15 in defense. DC’s are important, but the DC is more than likely to leave a team if they’re aren’t playing up to NFL standards. Will hold off on judgement

  64. bootlegshirts says: Jan 26, 2016 9:17 PM

    Gotta question this hire. He was in charge of the highest paid defense in the NFL and they ranked almost dead last in most stat categories. 9er fan check out the Browns vs Ravens Monday night game from earlier this year. Listen to Jon Gruden’s comments about the Browns defense throughout the game. As a Browns fun I suffered through watching every snap this year and I can’t recall a worse defense in the last 15 years.

  65. nyjad says: Jan 26, 2016 9:30 PM

    OMG, o’neil is a flunky, loser. Pettine is the only reason he is even in the NFL. Major downgrade from mangini.

  66. 61veloce says: Jan 26, 2016 9:53 PM

    Eagles fan here. I like the 49ers, but man, you guys are SO screwed between Kelly and O’Neil. This is going to flame out fast.

  67. kerrchris65 says: Jan 26, 2016 10:17 PM

    As a browns fan… Your defense will only be running one play from here on out. Master it… Or not. Your players will be guessing their assignments. You will be gashed in the run game. Your corners won’t stand a chance. Your best pass rusher will be dropping back into coverage; all the time. Your veterans will begin going to the media saying they don’t know the one play.

    You fired harbaugh for this? Should’ve kept mangini. On the bright side, this will quicken the departure of chip. This will not end well.

  68. Richard Iddings says: Jan 26, 2016 10:18 PM

    Wow. The 49ers found a DC with NFL experience… I didn’t think anyone already in the NFL would take the job.

    Always figured we would be reading a story about Joe Plumber, a life-long union welder who was picked as DC for his love of sushi and the 49ers… Personally hired by Jed when he yelled, “I bleed red!”… Jed being moved said, “I want you to be our defensive coordinator / travel coordinator / special assistant to Trent Balke.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly jumps ship even before the season starts…

  69. theclebrowns says: Jan 26, 2016 10:26 PM

    figure8v8racer says:
    Jan 26, 2016 8:22 PM
    All you Idiots that can’t read should of stayed in school. It says the Browns defense went from 9th in points allowed to 29th in points allowed that means the defense improved by 20 spots LEARN TO READ YOU LIBERAL MORONS

    Um nope. Take it from a Browns fan( or anyone who watches football) We used to have a top ten D until ONeil came along. Definitely slipped 20 spots. Using your logic, our 32nd ranked run defense was the best in the league.

  70. jerruhjones says: Jan 26, 2016 10:26 PM

    Oh good, retreads for the worst team in the league.



  71. a1b24312 says: Jan 26, 2016 10:28 PM

    Kelly is the offense side of the ball equivalent of Buddy Ryan. In This case, he doesnt care a whit about defense.

  72. Cavs2016NBAWorldChampions says: Jan 26, 2016 10:33 PM

    LMAO. You got to be kidding me. Wow how far the 49ers have fallen

  73. Cavs2016NBAWorldChampions says: Jan 26, 2016 10:35 PM

    Worst defensive coordinator in the world. Merrill Hoge was literally laughing at O’Neil plan to double team Antonio Brown.

    Gruden on the Monday Night game vs the Ravens, I have no idea what the Browns are trying to do here LMAO.

    Good luck 49ers

  74. carloswlassiter says: Jan 26, 2016 11:21 PM

    I was going to say I’d never heard of him, but I think that goes without saying.

  75. couchbasher says: Jan 26, 2016 11:59 PM


    I can’t believe my eyes!!!!

    49ers are SCREWED!

  76. couchbasher says: Jan 27, 2016 12:09 AM

    Guess Chip Kelly’s strategy is to not have a defense. They could’ve at least hired Pettine!?

    Jim O’Neil is the worst D-Coordinator I have EVER seen.

  77. raiderlyfe510 says: Jan 27, 2016 12:37 AM

    Jim O’neil is a good hire. Good football mind, great intensity and desire for greatness, and will energize the defense. I don’t like their OC hire if he was looking for a running game coordinator should have gone O Line coach like Mike Bloomgren at Stanford, but this DC hire is good.

    As far as their OC/running game coordinator..they better bring in Alex Gibbs to school him.

  78. jesusthinksyoureajerk says: Jan 27, 2016 2:01 AM

    I swear, the NFL has the fans with the shortest memories and most reactionary comments possible.

    ‘B-b-but muh 2 year d rankings….’
    In his first season as defensive coordinator, O’Neil’s unit made significant increases in nearly every major defensive statistic, including red zone defense (29th in 2013 to fifth in 2014), third down defense (31st to 11th), points per game (23rd to ninth) and quarterback rating (16th to first). The team led the NFL in opponent completion percentage (57.1), opponent passer rating (74.1) and passes defensed (99). The Browns finished second in the league with 21 interceptions, the team’s highest total since 2008, while also finishing tied for fourth in takeaways (29). Cleveland’s defense also finished in the top-10 in the league in pass defense (fifth with 6.44 yards per attempt) and total defense (ninth with an average of 5.24 yards per play).

    Then their entire secondary got hurt, left via free agency, or no-showed, and they had major depth injuries @ LB and on the line.

  79. nickinneohio says: Jan 27, 2016 2:11 AM

    O’Neil will….defiantly will… hire Pettine as an assistant to bail his tail out…..Dude is clueless.

  80. joenash72 says: Jan 27, 2016 4:30 AM

    Reap what you sow 😉

  81. haansel82 says: Jan 27, 2016 4:38 AM

    Nobody wants to work with Chip. Go figure. The problem is with Chip himself. He thinks he can do it better than everyone, and it doesnt matter what his players or staff says.

    I was wrong to think he can lead a professional NFL team.

    – Eagles Fan

  82. maverick43 says: Jan 27, 2016 6:52 AM

    Chippy has a penchant for finding a DC with the worst stats imaginable and hiring him! Get ready San Fran! Your defense will be on the field the entire game gasping for air while your offense burns through a series of three and outs! Worst football I ever saw in Philly!

  83. cornhusker44 says: Jan 27, 2016 7:11 AM

    seatownballers says:
    Jan 26, 2016 6:10 PM
    Kinda like the great hire for their offensive coordinator that was the lions running back coach, because their running game was so good this last year.
    Chip will get Kaep hurt running a college system and he’ll be out by week 9.
    Keep shining those rings, that’s all ya got.
    Who has got it better then 5-11?


    Sheattles window well and truly closed. But as usual anything 49ers related they arrive. The Bandwagon rolls up. A few sad, lonely and dejected “fans” fall off. Desperately the search and scramble, looking for reasons to become relevant to 49ers fans. They crave recognition, frantically clawing at any shred of an opportunity to create their chance of a rivalary. A faux rivalry, only outshone be their faux dynasty, but still they cling to this imaginary float. Truth is they have nothing. An empty shell. Their only glow a single Lombardi for their “years of dominance”. They are dark, lonely,sad characters. Craving the Red and Gold reverence, seeking the history of a storied, world wide brand, only to be trodden on and forgotten like the majority of their fellow “followers”. Their final despair, a scared ignorance of reality. AFC? NFC? No one knows – no one cares. They are of no significance, even in their own city. Their stadium, old, decrepit, hollow. Stolen nickname, stamped on by a school. Their greatest ever players remain unknown to the throng. One day, in an NFL far, far away, they hope to be important. For now they are bitter, pained, denied status. Denied a stage. Denied real fans. They grasp frantically and kneel at the 49er alter of greatness. Dazzled, transfixed, wide eyed at our 5. Unfit for purpose they crawl back to the rain. Loss is tragic. Show pity fellow Faithful. They are worthy of pity at least. Just pity, nothing more. They are worthless.

  84. root4cleveland says: Jan 27, 2016 7:39 AM

    Short the franchise: in the words of the great Charles Barklay this guy is “terble”

    I’ve been watching incompetent Browns teams for years in Cleveland: this defense – which had (4) pro-bowl starters -was the second most pathetic Browns defense I’ve ever seen. (2009 was worst.)

  85. officialgame says: Jan 27, 2016 8:23 AM

    IF you were a DC and knew your squad would be on the field for 75% of the snaps would you want to come in and work for Kelly? It is a losing proposition from the get go.

  86. ecniner says: Jan 27, 2016 8:28 AM

    No words describe this choice for DC. We’ll leave it at that.

  87. silverhat78 says: Jan 27, 2016 8:56 AM

    figure8v8racer says:
    Jan 26, 2016 8:22 PM
    All you Idiots that can’t read should of stayed in school. It says the Browns defense went from 9th in points allowed to 29th in points allowed that means the defense improved by 20 spots LEARN TO READ YOU LIBERAL MORONS

    First off, not sure what politics have to do with the SF DC hire as you feel to yell at us for being liberal
    Secondly, the Browns last year were at the bottom of the league in defense in almost every category.
    So before yelling at us all, maybe you should recheck your information.

    Thank you and have a good day.

  88. kecando says: Jan 27, 2016 5:26 PM

    Clevveland Browns West!

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