(Update, 8:08 p.m.: Per Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, via Twitter: Browns special teams coach Brad Seely has left the Browns, league source said, presumably for 49ers, whom he’s been talking to today).
Browns assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Brad Seely, a highly regarded assistant with 22 years of NFL experience, has been contacted by the Niners about joining Jim Harbaugh’s staff, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Seely, 54, has developed a reputation for overseeing stellar special teams units during his stops with the Colts (1989-93), Jets (1994), Panthers (1995-98), Patriots (1999-2008) and Browns, where he was hired in 2009.
During his tenure in New England, the Patriots led the NFL in kickoff-return average (23.5) and ranked eighth in punt-return average (9.9). New England also ranked second in the league with 11 returns for touchdowns, including eight on kickoffs. Under Seely’s guidance, the Browns are one of four NFL teams to not allow a kickoff or punt return for a touchdown over the past two seasons. They have also led the NFL in kickoff-return coverage while ranking fourth in punt-return coverage during his tenure.
Seely, the NFL’s Special Teams Coach of the Year in 1996, has coached eight Pro Bowlers, a list that includes return specialists Joshua Cribbs and Michael Bates and kickers Adam Vinatieri and John Kasay.
The Browns are overhauling their coaching staff under new coach Pat Shurmur although Seely would seem to be a coach they would want to retain. Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan took the same position with the Cowboys on Wednesday.
Seely has a history with several 49ers assistants. He coached with offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for four seasons in Carolina. He also coached with secondary coach Ed Donatell at Pacific in 1983.
Kurt Schottenheimer was the Niners’ special teams coordinator this past season after spending the past three seasons as Green Bay’s secondary coach. Schottenheimer’s status with the team has been uncertain since Harbaugh’s hiring.