Several OSU assistants on the way

The 49ers announced Thursday morning that Al Simmons has joined their staff as assistant secondary coach, and expect that assignment to open the floodgates for at least a few more of Dennis Erickson's former assistants at Oregon State to join him in San Francisco, now that Mike Riley has been named to replace Erickson as Oregon State's head coach.

On Thursday, Riley was named to replace Erickson as Oregon State's next head coach, just four years after Erickson replaced Riley in the same position when the latter became head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

Gregg Smith and Tim Lappano, both longtime assistant coaches under Erickson, are expected to soon join the 49ers staff after both were notified Wednesday they were being passed over for the Oregon State head-coaching job.

Erickson hasn't yet confirmed that Smith and Lappano are joining his staff, but the Niners new head coach indicated on the day he was hired that Smith would be joining him in some capacity. Smith has worked on the same staff as Erickson every season since 1982 at Idaho, and he is expected to become the 49ers assistant head coach and coach tight ends, a position vacated after the season when Tom Batta decided to turn his attention to scouting.

Smith has been Erickson's assistant head coach during their recent stops, including a four-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks. Smith coached tight ends for two seasons with the Seahawks.

Lappano was the Beavers' offensive coordinator and also coached quarterbacks. He is set to coach runnings backs for the 49ers, replacing Tom Rathman. Rathman joined former 49ers coach Steve Mariucci in Detroit after he was told last week his future with the 49ers was contingent on Lappano's fate. Lappano also has coached with Erickson much of his career.

Simmons, who spent the past two seasons as Oregon State's secondary coach, spent the previous four seasons coaching in the San Francisco Bay Area at the University of California in Berkeley. He will assist secondary coach Brett Maxie, and his main focus will be working with the team's cornerbacks.

When the Oregon State coaches join Erickson in San Francisco as expected, Erickson still will be looking to fill coaching vacancies at wide receiver, defensive line and special teams. Erickson is not attending the annual NFL scouting combine this week in Indianapolis as he continues to assemble his staff of assistants.


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