LAKE FOREST, IL – The Chicago Bears have hired Richard Hightower as their assistant special teams coach.
Hightower has 10 years of coaching experience including nine in the NFL. He spent the 2015 season in San Francisco as an assistant special teams coach with the 49ers. In 2015, Hightower helped the 49ers punt coverage unit rank eighth in the NFL allowing just 6.4 yards per return, while working with rookie punter Bradley Pinion. Kicker Phil Dawson was 10th in the NFL with an 88.9 field goal percentage (tied for the fourth highest percentage of his 17-year career).
Hightower spent the 2014 season as an offensive quality control coach in Cleveland after working as an assistant special teams coach for four seasons in Washington (2010-13), adding the role of assistant defensive backs coach from 2012-13. Over his four seasons in Washington, the Redskins were third in the NFL in kickoff coverage, allowing just 21.2 yards per return, including leading the league in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, Redskins special teamer Lorenzo Alexander was named to the Pro Bowl after leading the NFL with 21 special teams tackles and first-year kicker Kai Forbath led the NFL with a 94.4 field goal percentage. Forbath broke an NFL record by hitting his first 17 career field attempts.
From 2006-08, Hightower was on Houston’s coaching staff as a coaching assistant (2006-07) and special teams assistant (2008). In 2008, Houston was 11th in the NFL in kickoff coverage (22.3 ypr). Punt returner Jacoby Jones finished fifth in the NFL and second in Texans single-season annals with a 12.1 average, including a franchise single-season record two punt return touchdowns. Kicker Kris Brown finished tied for 10th in the NFL with a career-high 87.9 field goal percentage (29-of-33), which is also second-highest in Texans single-season history.
In between his time in Houston and Washington, Hightower spent the 2009 season as wide receivers coach at the University of Minnesota. Under his tutelage, Eric Decker was named a First-Team All-Big Ten selection that season before being selected by the Denver Broncos in the third round (87th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft.
The Houston, Texas native spent four seasons (1999-2002) on the University of Texas football team after joining the team as a walk-on, eventually earning an athletic scholarship. As a senior he was awarded the D. Harold Byrd Leadership Award by the coaching staff and received a bachelor of arts in marketing.