The 49ers were able to maintain the vast majority of last year's squad. However, one key piece they did lose came from their coaching staff when Joe Woods, last year's defensive pass-game coordinator, left to become the Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator.
On Friday, the 49ers filled the void, hiring passing game specialist Mike Rutenberg in replace of Woods, per ESPN's Field Yates.
Rutenberg comes in with just under two decades of experience in the coaching industry with stops in both the college ranks and the NFL. Now he'll be tasked with guiding the 49ers defense into a similar unit compared to last season's, as he'll take his knowledge and help apply it to the San Francisco secondary.
Rutenberg's recent NFL coaching history:
2019-2018 Jacksonville Jaguars Assistant Linebackers Coach
2017-2016 Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive Assistant Coach
2015-2013 Jacksonville Jaguars Assistant Defensive Backs Coach
Here are three things to know about the 49ers new assistant:
1. Relationship with Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh has already been formed
Familiarity between Robert Saleh and Rutenberg dates back to their time together in Jacksonville. When Saleh was the Jaguars' linebackers coach from 2014-16, Rutenberg was the team's defensive assistant and assistant defensive backs coach during that time frame.
Working together in Jacksonville, the two helped transform the Jaguars' defense into one of the better ones against the pass. In Saleh and Rutenberg's final season together, the defense improved from allowing the 24th most points in 2015 to being a top 10 unit, as they improved to sixth-best in 2016.
2. Rutenberg comes from a collegiate background
While being on the UCLA coaching staff as a graduate assistant, Rutenberg was in charge of playbook administration, opponent breakdown, and self-scout assessment of the Bruins.
He also contributed to UCLA's defensive game plan each week and would run the scout team during practices. His efforts helped assist a UCLA defense that ranked 29th in the nation while also bringing in a top-10 recruiting class onto campus.
3. Experience with defensive backs
Rutenberg has assisted players all over the defense but his specialty is guided towards defensive backs. The 49ers hired Tony Oden to be their defensive backs coach early into the offseason, so after hiring Rutenberg, they should have plenty of assistance surrounding their cornerbacks and safeties in 2020.
With Woods' departure leaving a sizable hole on the 49ers staff, Rutenberg will have his hands full in maintaining the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense. Coming from the school of coaching under Joe Gibbs in Washington, Rutenberg should be in good condition as he reunites with Saleh.