The Seahawks are reportedly hiring Ken Norton Jr. as their new defensive coordinator to replace Kris Richard.
The Seahawks are bringing back former assistant Ken Norton Jr. as the defensive coordinator with Kris Richard apparently on his way out.
The news was first reported by Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network and then confirmed by the 49ers, who had hired Norton last week as assistant head coach-defense/inside linebackers.
“Last week, Ken was presented with an opportunity to once again coordinate a defense,” said a statement from 49esr coach Kyle Shanahan. “Because of how we feel about Ken as a coach, we understand and respect his desire to pursue the position.”
Norton was with the Seahawks from 2010-14 as linebackers coach before leaving to become the defensive coordinator of the Raiders when the Seahawks chose Richard to replace Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator. Quinn left to become the head coach of the Falcons.
But his San Francisco contract included an out allowing him to take a job as a coordinator.
The Seahawks had no confirmation of the move and also have yet to confirm that Richard will not return. It is thought that the team is hoping Richard will find another coaching job so as to avoid a firing.
Norton is the son of former heavyweight boxer Ken Norton and spent 13 years as a linebacker in the NFL with the Cowboys and the 49ers, winning three straight Super Bowl rings in 1992-93-94.
He spent all of his coaching career under Pete Carroll until the move to the Raiders in 2015, beginning at USC in 2004 as a defensive assistant and then from 2005-08 as linebackers coach and 2009 as assistant head coach-defense/linebackers before coming to Seattle with Carroll in 2010.
He held the title of linebackers coach for all five years of his Seattle tenure before leaving for the Raiders in Feb., 2015.
While it was viewed that the Seahawks had chosen Richard instead of him to be defensive coordinator, Norton at the time offered only praise to Carroll.
“One thing, I can really take my hat off to Pete Carroll,’’ Norton said upon his hiring with the Raiders. “He’s really done a great job of when we’re there with him, he’s always preparing us to be coordinators, to be head coaches. He’s always having us look forward and do things that are important for us to continue our careers and keep improving ourselves.’’
At the time Norton was fired by the Raiders Oakland ranked 26th in total defense, allowing 367 yards per game, and was the only team in the NFL without an interception and tied for last in the league in sacks with 14. Oakland had also allowed 30 or more points in four of the last six games he was the DC.
But many have often viewed the Seahawks’ defense as largely still remaining under the control of Carroll, who had mostly a defensive background before becoming a head coach and was his own defensive coordinator for five years at USC.
That could mean the Seahawks are largely going back to Norton to get a different — yet still familiar — voice leading the players after an injury-plagued 2017 season in which Seattle fell to 11th in total defense at 323.2 yards per game after ranking in the top five every year from 2012-16.
Norton’s apparent hiring means the Seahawks appear to have made their choices at both coordinator sports.
Sources have confirmed to the Seattle Times that Brian Schottenheimer is expected to officially be named the team’s offensive coordinator soon after reports emerged Saturday that he had been offered the job.
Garafolo also reported that the Seahawks are hiring Mike Solari as offensive line coach to replace Tom Cable, which a source later confirmed to the Seattle Times.