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Coaches And Staff

Richard Hightower
Special Teams Coordinator

BIOGRAPHY

Richard Hightower rejoins the 49ers as the team’s special teams coordinator, having previously served as assistant special teams coach with the team in 2015. Last season, he worked with the Chicago Bears as their assistant special teams coach.

Hightower has 11 years of coaching experience including ten in the NFL. In 2016, during his stint with the Bears, the kickoff coverage team finished 7th in the NFL in opponent drive start average. Deonte Thompson led the NFL in kickoff returns with 35 and ranked second with 810 yards. Punter returner Eddie Royal scored on a nifty 65-yard touchdown on Monday Night Football vs. the Eagles. Sherrick McManis led the Bears in special-teams tackles and finished top 10 in the NFL, recording 13 stops.

In 2015, Hightower first joined San Francisco as an...

Richard Hightower rejoins the 49ers as the team’s special teams coordinator, having previously served as assistant special teams coach with the team in 2015. Last season, he worked with the Chicago Bears as their assistant special teams coach.

Hightower has 11 years of coaching experience including ten in the NFL. In 2016, during his stint with the Bears, the kickoff coverage team finished 7th in the NFL in opponent drive start average. Deonte Thompson led the NFL in kickoff returns with 35 and ranked second with 810 yards. Punter returner Eddie Royal scored on a nifty 65-yard touchdown on Monday Night Football vs. the Eagles. Sherrick McManis led the Bears in special-teams tackles and finished top 10 in the NFL, recording 13 stops.

In 2015, Hightower first joined San Francisco as an assistant special teams coach with the 49ers. That season, Hightower helped the 49ers punt coverage unit rank eighth in the NFL allowing just 6.4 yards per return, while working with rookie punter Bradley Pinion. Kicker Phil Dawson was 10th in the NFL with an 88.9 field goal percentage (tied for the fourth highest percentage of his 17-year career).

Hightower spent the 2014 season working on offense in Cleveland assisting with the receivers after working as an assistant special teams coach for four seasons in Washington (2010-13). With Washington, he worked under longtime special teams coordinator Danny Smith. Hightower also spent two seasons (2012-13) as the assistant defensive backs coach with the Redskins. Over his four seasons in Washington, the Redskins were third in the NFL in kickoff coverage, allowing just 21.2 yards per return, including leading the league in 2010 and 2011. Hightower’s coaching on special teams helped Lorenzo Alexander lead the NFL with 21 special-teams tackles en route to being named the NFC’s special teams player in the Pro Bowl, in 2012. Hightower was also instrumental in the development of first-year kicker Kai Forbath, who broke an NFL record by hitting his first 17 field goal attempts, leading the NFL with a 94.4 field goal percentage.

As assistant defensive back coach, Hightower helped the unit rank sixth in the NFL in interceptions (37) and tie for second in the NFL in interception-return touchdowns (7) over the two-year span. DeAngelo Hall led the NFL in defensive touchdowns (3). In 2012, the Redskins were first in the NFC in passes defensed and had four returned touchdowns.

From 2006-08, Hightower was on Houston’s coaching staff as a coaching assistant (2006-07) before being elevated to special teams assistant (2008). In Houston, he served under widely respected then-special teams coordinator Joe Marciano, who has more than 30 years of experience coaching special teams. In 2008, Houston was 11th in the NFL in kickoff coverage (22.3 ypr). Punt returner Jacoby Jones finished fifth in the NFL and second in Texans single-season annals with a 12.1 average, including a franchise single-season record two punt return touchdowns. Kicker Kris Brown set franchise records for points (124), field goals made (29) and field goal percentage (.879). In 2007, the kickoff return unit featuring Jerome Mathis and Andre Davis became only the 4th team in NFL history to score four touchdowns on kickoff return in a single season.

In between his time in Houston and Washington, Hightower spent the 2009 season as wide receivers coach at the University of Minnesota. Under his tutelage, Eric Decker was named a First-Team All-Big Ten selection that season before being selected by the Denver Broncos in the third round (87th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft.

A native of Houston, TX, Hightower earned his BA in Marketing from the University of Texas where he was a three-year letterman and special teams standout for Longhorns. He went to Austin as an academic scholar and later earned an athletic scholarship after walking on. Following his senior season, then head coach Mack Brown and his staff voted Hightower the D. Harold Byrd Leadership Award.

Hightower and his wife, Lanet, have two sons Jaxson and Kaden and a daughter, Reagan.

Coaching Staff