Back in 2011, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was talking about the talents of Brad Seely, his assistant head coach and special teams coordinator.
During that 2011 season, Harbaugh’s first in San Francisco, Seely had done a marvelous job turning the 49ers special teams into a special force. The kickoff return and kickoff coverage units had been among the best in the NFL, and Harbaugh said Seely’s input on the sidelines during games had been invaluable. Harbaugh told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle that he often conferred with Seely about clock management decisions and strategy.
Then, after that first successful season in San Francisco, Seely was being courted by other NFL teams.
“He just does a great job,” Harbaugh said of Seely. “And I’ve almost got the feeling that, ‘OK, we’ve got him now. We’ve got coach Seely now and at some point, some smart organization is going to hire him away from us.”
Now that time has come, and the organization is the Oakland Raiders.
With the departure of Harbaugh, most of his coaching staff also became available. And Jack Del Rio, the new head coach in Oakland, has hired Seely to coach Raiders special teams this season. Considering Seely’s long track record of success in the NFL, it’s a solid hire by Del Rio.
Three times, Seely – who will be special teams coordinator in Oakland – has been named special teams coach of the year in the NFL, using rankings by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News (in 1996 with Carolina, 2009 with Cleveland and 2011 in San Francisco).
Seely has coached with several teams in the league, and spent 10 seasons on the staff of Bill Belichick in New England, helping the Patriots win three Super Bowls.
Seely will take over for Bobby April, who coached special teams under Dennis Allen and Tony Sparano.
Seely is a big believer in adding veteran special teamers to his units. In San Francisco, he brought in players such as Bubba Ventrone, Kassim Osgood and Blake Costanzo. All were difference makers. One report indicated Seely likely will pursue one or two of those types of veterans to add to his units in Oakland this coming season.