49ers hire Ken Norton Jr. as assistant head coach

By Jesse Reed

The San Francisco 49ers are bringing one of their great players back into the fold, hiring Ken Norton Jr. to be an assistant head coach as well as a defense/inside linebackers coach.

San Francisco announced the move on Monday, along with the hire of Johnny Holland as the team’s run game specialist/outside linebackers coach and Michael Clay as an assistant special teams coach.

“Ken brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to our team having spent more than two decades as a NFL player and coach,” said Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. “Throughout his coaching career, Ken has developed a tremendous understanding of our defensive system, making him a perfect fit for our staff. With four Super Bowl titles on his resume, including one as a 49er, Ken knows firsthand what it takes to become a championship caliber team.”

Norton last coached with the Oakland Raiders (defensive coordinator) before being fired by Jack Del Rio this past November. As a coach, he’s won a Super Bowl as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. As a player, Norton Jr. won three championships, two with the Dallas Cowboys and one with the 49ers.

The 49ers already have an outstanding defensive coordinator in Robert Saleh. Norton’s influence will be primarily as a leader for a young team on the rise, and as the man who’ll help Reuben Foster and the team’s other linebackers reach their top potential as someone familiar with Saleh’s system.