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Jerry Azzinaro named new Cal defensive line coach

Wow. What a staff.

NFL: Preseason-San Francisco 49ers at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day surprise! Cal has a defensive line coach, and it’s one of the most experienced in the game in Jerry Azzinaro.

Those of you might be most familiar with Jerry Azzinaro as the recent 49ers defensive line coach, but you’ve probably seen his handiwork most prominently at Oregon from 2009 to 2012 as part of Chip Kelly’s staff. Azzinaro has been Kelly’s right hand man whereever he’s gone, from New Hampshire to Oregon to the NFL with the Eagles and the 49ers. This will be the first time in nearly a decade the two won’t be sharing the same sideline.

Azzinaro has recruited prospects like DeForest Buckner, Ricky Heimuli, and Sam Kamp to Oregon. And while the performances were lacking in the NFL, he is a brilliant defensive mind. Nick Aliotti attests:

Azzinaro passed, and became a key device in an Oregon machine that went 46-7 with four bowl games and a national championship game appearance in four seasons. The Ducks led the Pac-10 in sacks in the first two years under Azzinaro, who helped build a defense to match Kelly’s vision.

“He’s a tireless worker. The guy will watch film forever and ever and study opponents and what I like to call ‘crack the code’, find a way to crack the code of offensive linemen or something that he catches – a lean or a tilt or something like that,” said former Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. “Azz is a fantastic coach in all aspects. A lot of d-line coaches don’t know coverages and schemes; I hate to pigeon-hole them but a lot of them don’t, they just know their own little world. Azz has a great grasp of all of it – the back end as well as the linebackers as well as the d-line.”

Read this entire Philly profile on Jerry Azzinaro. Well worth the look.

Cal now has two former Oregon coaches on staff who are familiar with each other in Steve Greatwood and Jerry Azzinaro, and both are line coaches, so that provides some added bonus here.

For those keeping track, here is the Cal coaching staff as of now:

  • Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin
  • Quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Marques Tuiasosopo
  • Wide receivers coach Nicholas Edwards
  • Offensive line coach Steve Greatwood
  • Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter
  • Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro
  • Defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander
  • Strength coach Torre Becton

Cal still has to figure out running backs, linebackers, tight ends and special teams, but this is a mighty start. This is the most accomplished Cal coaching staff in my lifetime. Justin Wilcox has gotten the best minds to coach here. And we’re not even done!