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Ken Norton Jr. skips out on the 49ers to take defensive coordinator’s job with Seahawks

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After being hired by the San Francisco 49ers last week, Ken Norton Jr. has decided to take the defensive coordinator job with the Seahawks, KING-TV in Seattle first reported.

Norton would replace Kris Richard, who was on the Seahawks coaching staff for the past eight seasons, the past three as defensive coordinator.

The 49ers hired Norton as their assistant head coach/defense and inside linebackers coach, but the team released a statement on Monday, saying it was allowing him to leave for an unspecified coordinator job elsewhere.

“Last week, Ken was presented with an opportunity to once again coordinate a defense,” the statement read. “Because of how we feel about Ken as a coach, we understand and respect his desire to pursue the position.”

Norton, 51, is the son of former heavyweight boxing champion Ken Norton Sr. The younger Norton was a linebacker for 13 seasons in the NFL and remains the only player in the Super Bowl era to play on three consecutive Super Bowl champions, winning two titles with the Dallas Cowboys and then one with the 49ers.

Norton was the Seahawks linebackers coach from 2010-14, having followed Carroll to Seattle from USC. He left to become the Oakland Raiders’ defensive coordinator in 2015 when he was essentially passed up for the same job in Seattle in favor of Richard, who took over the role when Dan Quinn became head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

Richard’s expected departure comes after Seattle’s defense took a big step back in 2017, a season in which they lost three Pro Bowl starters on that side of the ball — Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril — to season-ending injuries. The Seahawks finished 11th in total defense and tied for 13th in points allowed. They were second and fifth in total defense in Richard’s first two seasons as coordinator. They were first and third in points allowed, leading the league in scoring defense for the fourth straight season in 2015.

Norton was fired in November with the Raiders defense ranked 26th in the NFL. At the time, they were also tied for 21st in points allow.

The Seahawks are also hiring Mike Solari as offensive line coach, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Solari replaces Tom Cable, who was fired last week, but is returning to Oakland as part of Jon Gruden’s staff.

The would be Solari’s second stint with the Seahawks. He was Seattle’s offensive line coach in 2008 under Mike Holmgren, and in 2009 under Jim Mora. Solari left the team in 2010 when Carroll replaced Mora, and coached the 49ers’ offensive line from 2010-14. He served in that role for the past two seasons with the New York Giants after a stint as the Green Bay Packers’ assistant offensive line coach in 2015.

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