The job no one seemed to want finally was filled Tuesday.
Jim O’Neil was hired by the 49ers as defensive coordinator, not an attractive position on a team with iffy defensive talent and now coached by Chip Kelly. Defenses under Kelly wore out late in the season in Philadelphia when forced to play an unusual number of snaps, required by a rapid-pace offense that ran a play once every 22.1 seconds last season, an NFL-high.
O’Neil, 37, had been defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns, who were 23rd and 27th in total yards allowed the last two seasons and 30th in rushing defense last year. O’Neil was available after the Browns hired Hue Jackson as head coach.
Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke first offered the job to Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel, who rejected it. 49ers linebackers coach Jason Tarver and Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach Don Martindale also were considered.
The 49ers were 29th in total yards allowed and 18th in scoring defense last season under coordinator Eric Mangini, who was fired by Kelly.