Top things learned so far this spring: No. 2

March, 13, 2014
The countdown of five things we learned from the first half of Stanford spring practice continues.

[+] EnlargeDuane Akina
Brett Davis/USA TODAY SportsDuane Akina built an NFL defensive back pipeline at Texas and will try to do the same at Stanford.
No. 2: Coaching staff settled

It didn't become official until after the first half of spring practice ended, but the coaching staff is set. Stanford hired former Texas assistant Duane Akina as its new defensive backs coach in addition to running backs coach Lance Taylor and inside linebackers coach Pete Hansen.

Defensive backs had been coached by Derek Mason, who left to become the head coach at Vanderbilt on Jan. 17. Cardinal coach David Shaw said up front he would take his time with the hire, and it appears to have paid off. Akina's track record in developing defensive backs is as impressive as they come. First order of business: continuing the conversion of Kodi Whitfield (receiver) and Dallas Lloyd (quarterback) into safeties.

While Akina has 35 years of college coaching experience, the new roles will serve as the first FBS position coaching jobs for both Taylor and Hansen. Taylor (Carolina) and Hansen (San Francisco) were both assistant position coaches in the NFL last season and sought out situations where they ran their own position group.

For Taylor, the opportunity allowed him to coach alongside offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgreen, who was a graduate assistant at Alabama when Taylor played receiver for the Tide. Bloomgren was instrumental in bringing Taylor aboard with the Jets in 2010, and was the driving force behind Taylor's hire at Stanford.

Hansen's hiring didn't require a move at all. He's still living in the same place he was as a member of the 49ers staff and figures to have about as seamless a transition as possible. San Francisco uses the framework for the same defense, and Hansen spent two years as a defensive assistant at Stanford before leaving for the NFL.


No. 3: Crower makes strides; Burns in doghouse

No. 4: No clear leader at running back

No. 5: The offensive line is set



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