The San Francisco 49ers and head coach Chip Kelly have announced the signing of 15 members of the team’s coaching staff.
Curtis Modkins - Offensive Coordinator
Bob Bicknell - Wide Receivers
Ryan Day - Quarterbacks
Jeff Nixon - Tight Ends
Tom Rathman - Running Backs
Pat Flaherty - Offensive Line
Eric Wolford - Assistant Offensive Line
Mick Lombardi - Offensive Quality Control
Jim O’Neil - Defensive Coordinator
Jerry Azzinaro - Defensive Line
Jeff Hafley - Defensive Backs
Hardy Nickerson - Inside Linebackers
Jason Tarver - Outside Linebackers
Derius Swinton II - Special Teams Coordinator
Michael Clay - Assistant Special Teams
Offensive Staff Bios
Modkins, 45, enters his ninth season in the NFL and first as the 49ers offensive coordinator. Prior to joining San Francisco, he spent three seasons as the running backs coach/run game coordinator for the Detroit Lions (2013-15). Modkins spent three years with the Buffalo Bills (2010-12) as the offensive coordinator and running backs coach. Before his time in Buffalo, he served as the running backs coach with the Arizona Cardinals, in 2009. He began his NFL coaching career as the running backs coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, in 2008. Before heading to the NFL, Modkins spent six years as a coach at Georgia Tech, where he coached the running backs (2003-07) and defensive backs (2002). Prior to his time with the Yellow Jackets, he spent four seasons at the University of New Mexico (1998-2001) as the team’s defensive backs coach. Modkins began his coaching career at his alma mater, Texas Christian University, where he served as a tight ends coach in 1997, secondary coach in 1996 and a graduate assistant, in 1995.
Bicknell, 46, enters his first season as the 49ers wide receivers coach after spending the previous three years with the Philadelphia Eagles (2013-15) in the same role. A veteran of 26 seasons coaching the collegiate and professional levels, Bicknell joined the Eagles after three seasons with the Buffalo Bills, where he served as their wide receivers coach, in 2012, and as tight ends coach from 2010-11. Prior to his arrival in Buffalo, he spent the three previous years with the Kansas City Chiefs as their tight ends coach (2009), offensive line coach (2008) and assistant offensive line coach (2007). Before joining the NFL ranks, Bicknell was the offensive line coach at Temple University (2006) and spent eight years in NFL Europe (1998-2005), including stints as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach for the Cologne Centurions (2004-05) and Berlin Thunder (2001-03). Bicknell began his coaching career at Boston University, where he coached safeties (1993), running backs (1994) and linebackers (1995-97).
Day, 36, enters his second season in the NFL and his first season as the 49ers quarterbacks coach. He joins San Francisco after spending the 2015 season as the Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach. Day joined Philadelphia following two seasons as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Boston College (2013-14). In 2012, Day was the offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach at Temple University. Prior to his time with the Owls, Day spent five seasons with BC from 2007-11 as the team’s wide receivers coach. In 2006, he served as a wide receivers coach at Temple and was a graduate assistant at the University of Florida, in 2005. Day also served as a graduate assistant at Boston College for two seasons (2003-04). He began his coaching career alongside current 49ers head coach Chip Kelly in 2002 as the tight ends coach at New Hampshire. A three-year starting quarterback at the University of New Hampshire, Day played for the Wildcats under Kelly. He served as a team captain as a senior and finished his career with four UNH passing records, including career completion percentage (59.9) and career touchdown passes (53). He earned his degree in business administration from New Hampshire in 2002, and a master’s degree in administrative studies from Boston College, in 2004.
Nixon, 41, enters his 10th season in the NFL and first as the 49ers tight ends coach, having spent the past five seasons as the running backs coach for the Miami Dolphins (2011-15). Prior to joining the Dolphins, he spent four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (2007-10) as an assistant, working with the special teams and offense. In 2006, Nixon spent one season at Temple University, where he was the wide receivers and running backs coach. Before his time with the Owls, he spent three seasons at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (2003-05), where he was the special teams coordinator while overseeing the running backs and tight ends. Nixon arrived at Chattanooga after four seasons at Shippensburg University (1999-2002), where he served as the running backs coach. He began his coaching career at Penn State University, where he spent one season (1997) as a student assistant coach before becoming the running backs coach at Princeton University for one year (1998).
Rathman, 53, rejoined the 49ers as the team’s running backs coach in 2009, after serving the previous two seasons in the same capacity with the Oakland Raiders. It marked Rathman’s second coaching stint in San Francisco, having also coached the running backs for the team from 1997-2002. Under Rathman, the 49ers did not miss a beat in the rushing game throughout the 2015 season. Following an injury to RB
Flaherty, 59 enters his first season as the 49ers offensive line coach after having spent the previous 12 seasons (2004-15) in the same role for the New York Giants. Prior to joining the Giants, Flaherty spent three seasons (2001-03) coaching the tight ends with the Chicago Bears. He made his NFL coaching debut in 2000, when he coached the tight ends for the Washington Redskins. Prior to his time in Washington, Flaherty coached for 19 seasons in the collegiate ranks. He served as the tight ends and special teams coach at the University of Iowa in 1999. Flaherty spent six years (1993-98) at Wake Forest University, where he coached the offensive line, tight ends and special teams. In 1992, he coached one season at East Carolina University as the defensive line coach after spending eight years (1984-91) as the offensive line coach at Rutgers University. In 1982, Flaherty joined the staff at Penn State University, where he spent two seasons (1982-83) as an assistant offensive line coach. He began his collegiate coaching career in 1980, as the offensive line coach at East Stroudsburg University, his alma mater.
Wolford, 44, enters his second season in the NFL as the 49ers assistant offensive line coach, after spending the previous 19 seasons in the collegiate ranks. Prior to joining the 49ers, he served as the head coach at Youngstown State University from 2009-14. In 2009, Wolford worked under Steve Spurrier at South Carolina as the running-game coordinator and offensive line coach. Prior to joining the Gamecocks, Wolford spent two seasons at the University of Illinois (2007-08), coaching the offensive line under then head coach Ron Zook. Over the course of 11 seasons (1996-2006), Wolford has served as the offensive line coach for other collegiate staffs, including the University of Arizona (2004-06), the University of North Texas (2003), the University of Houston (2000-02), the University of South Florida (1997-99) and Emporia State University (1996). He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Bill Snyder at Kansas State University, where he was a four-year starter at guard for the Wildcats.
Lombardi, 27, enters his fourth season with the 49ers and his first as an offensive quality control coach. Before his current role, he spent the 2014 season as an offensive assistant and the 2013 season as assistant to the head coach. Prior to joining the 49ers, Lombardi served as both a scouting assistant and coaching assistant for the New England Patriots, where his duties included evaluating players, breaking down film for the offense, assisting offensive coaches, running the scout team, and charting plays for the coaching staff. Lombardi was hired as a training camp intern in the scouting department for the Patriots in 2011, before being promoted to a full-time position prior to the regular season. Before his time in the NFL, Lombardi was a student assistant coach at Fordham University for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Defensive Staff Bios
O’Neil, 37, is in his eighth season in the NFL and first with the 49ers as the team’s defensive coordinator. He joins the 49ers after spending the past two seasons (2014-15) in the same role with the Cleveland Browns. Prior to joining the Browns, O’Neil spent the 2013 season as the linebackers coach for the Buffalo Bills. O’Neil spent four seasons in the New York Jets organization, first as defensive quality control/defensive backs coach in 2009 and the following three years (2010-12) as assistant defensive backs coach. Before his time in the NFL, O’Neil spent eight years as a coach at the collegiate level. He was at Eastern Michigan University as the school’s recruiting coordinator and safeties coach from 2006-08. He also had stints at Towson University (2005), as defensive coordinator, Northwestern University (2003-04), as a graduate assistant/defensive backs coach, the University of Pennsylvania (2002), as an assistant offensive line coach and SUNY-Albany (2001), as an assistant offensive line/tight ends coach. A three-year starter as a defensive lineman at Towson University, O’Neil served as a team captain in 2000. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management from Towson and a master of arts degree in liberal studies from Northwestern as well as a master of science degree in education from SUNY-Albany. O’Neil attended Central Bucks West (Doylestown, PA) High School where he helped the school to a 31-4 record and three consecutive Suburban One League National Conference championships.
Azzinaro, 57, enters his fourth season in the NFL and first as the 49ers defensive line coach. A veteran of 34 seasons coaching at the professional and collegiate levels, he joins the 49ers after three years (2013-15) as the assistant head coach/defensive line coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to joining the Eagles, Azzinaro served as the defensive line coach at the University of Oregon under head coach Chip Kelly from 2009-12. He was on a coaching staff that helped lead the Ducks to a 46-7 record and four BCS bowl games in four years, including the 2010 National Championship Game. Throughout his coaching career, Azzinaro has served as the defensive line coach at Marshall University, in 2008, and at the University of New Hampshire, in 2007. Azzinaro also had stints as a defensive coordinator at Duke University (2004-06), the University of Massachusetts (1994 & 1997) and American International College (1987-91). He served as the head coach of Division-III Western New England University for one season, in 1986. Azzinaro was the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Syracuse University from 1999-2003. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at American International College (1982-84) and had stops as an assistant at the University of Maine (1998), Boston College (1995-96), the University of Massachusetts (1994) and Westfield University (1985). A native of Staten Island, NY, Azzinaro played linebacker at American International College (1978-81) as he led his team in tackles as a senior, in 1981.
Hafley, 36, enters his first season as the 49ers secondary coach after spending the previous two seasons (2014-15) in the same role with the Cleveland Browns. Prior to joining the Browns, Hafley spent two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the team’s secondary and safeties coach (2013) and assistant defensive backs coach (2012). Before entering the NFL ranks, Hafley served as the secondary coach at Rutgers University in 2011. Prior to Rutgers, Hafley spent five seasons at the University of Pittsburgh, coaching the secondary (2008-10) and as a defensive assistant/cornerbacks coach (2006-07). He spent four seasons at the University of Albany, where he was the defensive backs coach (2004-05) and defensive tackles coach (2002-03). Hafley began his coaching career as the running backs coach at Worcester Polytechnic University in 2001.
Nickerson, 50, enters his first season with the 49ers as the team’s inside linebackers coach. He joins San Francisco after serving as the linebackers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons (2014-15). Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Nickerson spent four seasons (2010-13) as the head coach at Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, CA) High School. Nickerson began his coaching career with the Chicago Bears as the team’s linebackers coach, in 2007. He also participated in the NFL’s Minority Coaching Fellowship Program with the Bears during training camp in 2004. Nickerson was a fifth-round draft pick (122nd overall) in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he went on to play five seasons (1987-92) at linebacker. He also had stops with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993-99), Jacksonville Jaguars (2000-01) and Green Bay Packers (2002). He was a second-team selection to the NFL 1990s All-Decade team. During his 16-year playing career, Nickerson started 200 of 225 career games played, totaling 1,867 tackles, 21 sacks and 12 interceptions. Throughout his career, Nickerson was chosen as the NFLPA Linebacker of the Year, earned four AP All-Pro and five Pro Bowl selections. Nickerson was also chosen as the recipient of the NFL’s Byron “Whizzer” White Award, given annually to one NFL player who exhibits excellence both on the field and in the community. A three-time team MVP in college, Nickerson attended the University of California (1983-86), where he racked up 501 tackles, eight interceptions and 4.5 sacks. He earned his degree in sociology, and was also inducted into the University’s Hall of Fame in 2004.
Tarver, 41, enters his 15th season in the NFL and seventh as the team’s outside linebackers coach, having served as a 49ers assistant coach from 2001-10. Returning to the 49ers last season, LBs
Special Teams Staff Bios
Swinton II, 30, enters his eighth season in the NFL and first with San Francisco as the special teams coordinator. He joins the 49ers after serving as an assistant special teams coach with the Chicago Bears in 2015. Prior to joining the Bears, Swinton was an assistant special teams coach with the Denver Broncos from 2013-14. Swinton joined the Broncos after spending the 2012 season as a special teams quality control coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. He began his NFL coaching career with the St. Louis Rams (2009-11) as their special teams quality control coach. Swinton made his coaching debut at the University of Tennessee in 2007 as a graduate assistant working with the defense and held that position for two years. A Newport News, VA native, Swinton played safety at Hampton University for four seasons (2003-06), Swinton registered 103 tackles, eight interceptions and 10 passes defensed. He was also on the school’s basketball team.
Clay, 25, enters his first season with the 49ers as the team’s assistant special teams coach after spending the previous two seasons (2014-15) as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff. In 2015, Clay served as a special teams assistant for the Eagles where he helped RB Darren Sproles earn his second career Pro Bowl selection as a return specialist after leading the NFL in punt return yards (446) and return touchdowns (2). He originally joined Philadelphia as a defensive quality control coach, in 2014. Clay was a four-year letterman as a linebacker for the University of Oregon (2009-12) and earned Second-Team All-Pac-12 honors as a senior, in 2012. Following his college career, he signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent, in 2013.