NCAA

Cal hires longtime Chip Kelly assistant, ex-49ers coach

Cal hires longtime Chip Kelly assistant, ex-49ers coach

BERKELEYCal head coach Justin Wilcox announced Tuesday that Jerry Azzinaro has agreed to become the Golden Bears' defensive line coach. Azzinaro has coached for 35 seasons at the collegiate and professional levels including the last four campaigns in the NFL with Philadelphia (2013-15) and San Francisco (2016). His most recent collegiate coaching position was at Oregon (2009-12).

"Jerry Azzinaro is regarded as one of the top defensive line coaches in the business," Wilcox said. "The success he had and expertise he gained in over three decades as a collegiate coach gave him the opportunity to work in the NFL the past four seasons and add to his vast knowledge of the game. I'm looking forward to Jerry bringing to our football program everything he has experienced at both the collegiate and professional levels."

"I'm excited to be joining the coaching staff at Cal," Azzinaro said. "Justin Wilcox is putting together a tremendous staff that will have the expertise and knowledge to capitalize on an opportunity to build one of the top programs in the Pac-12 and the nation."

Azzinaro has coached four first-round NFL Draft picks during his career in Arik Armstead (San Francisco, 2015), DeForest Buckner (San Francisco, 2016), Dwight Freeney (Indianapolis, 2002) and Dion Jordan (Miami, 2013).

Azzinaro finished his recent four-year NFL tenure in San Francisco in 2016, where he reunited with former Oregon defensive ends Armstead and Buckner with the latter earning a spot on the league's Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team. Buckner finished the season with 73 tackles and a team-high-tying 6.0 sacks.

Azzinaro's three campaigns in Philadelphia began with a playoff season, an NFC East title and a 10-6 regular-season record that was a six-game turnaround from 2012. The Eagles tied for third in the NFL with 31 takeaways.

In 2014, the Eagles' matched their 10-6 mark of the previous campaign but fell just short of the playoffs despite a defense that tied for the second-most sacks in the NFL (49.0) and ranked tied for fourth in yards allowed per carry (3.7). Defensive end Fletcher Cox earned second-team AP All-Pro honors registering 61 tackles, 4.0 sacks and three fumble recoveries, while defensive end Vinny Curry had a career-high 9.0 sacks.

Cox had another big season in 2015 with career highs of 71 tackles and 9.5 sacks that led to a second straight second-team AP All-Pro selection and his first Pro Bowl pick.

During his four years at Oregon, the Ducks played in BCS bowls each season and in the BCS National Championship Game following the 2010 campaign. Oregon also won Pac-10 titles in each of his first three seasons, reached the Pac-12 championship game in his fourth and posted an overall record of 46-7.

Oregon led the Pac-12 in sacks twice (2009, '11) and tackles for loss once (2010) during Azzinaro's tenure that began in 2009 when the Ducks paced the Pac-10 and ranked tied for 14th nationally in sacks (36.0, 2.77 spg). Defensive end Kenny Rowe led the league and ranked tied for ninth nationally in sacks (11.5, 0.88 spg) while also earning Rose Bowl Defensive Player of the Game honors after his 3.0 sacks equaled the contest's single-game mark.

In 2010, the Ducks won their first 12 games before falling to Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. Oregon led the Pac-10 and ranked seventh nationally in tackles for loss (97.0, 7.46 tflpg) while finishing second in the conference and 12th nationally in scoring defense (18.7 ppg).

Oregon led the Pac-10 and ranked fifth nationally in sacks (45.0, 3.21 spg) in 2011 when the Ducks finished 12-2 overall and defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl with Jordan earning all-conference honors.

His final season at Oregon in 2012 ended with a Fiesta Bowl victory and a 12-1 record as the Ducks led the nation in takeaways (40) and turnover margin (1.62). Jordan earned first-team all-conference honors for the second straight season and was selected third overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2013 NFL Draft after combining for 24.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks during his two all-conference campaigns.

Azzinaro also had three stints as a defensive coordinator at Duke (2004-06), Massachusetts (1994, 1997) and American International College (1987-91). He began his career as a graduate assistant on defense at his alma mater American International College (1982-84) and has also had other stops at Westfield State (1985), Western New England (1986), Massachusetts (1992-93), Boston College (1995-96), Maine (1998) and Syracuse (1999-2003).

Azzinaro mentored defensive end Freeney during an All-American career at Syracuse that would lead to seven Pro Bowl and four All-Pro selections as well as a Super Bowl XLI champion. Freeney was a unanimous All-American as a 2001 senior at Syracuse and earned first-team All-Big East honors in each of his final two campaigns in 2000 and 2001. The 1999 Syracuse team finished 10-3 overall and ranked No. 14 in the final national polls.

Azzinaro played linebacker at American International College (1978-81) and led his team in tackles as a 1981 senior. He received his bachelor's degree from the school in psychology in 1982 and his master's in educational psychology in 1985.

Cal Bears media services provided this report.

From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

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From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

Stanford has a penchant for recruiting the overachieving student-athlete. Even among those standards, Harrison Phillips is a rare find. The senior defensive tackle helps feed the homeless every Friday morning at a local shelter. He often visits the kids in the oncology ward at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He was named to the Pac-12 All Academic First Team and will graduate in December with a double major and a minor. He is a team captain and heir apparent to Solomon Thomas, the 49ers third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

“One thing you love about Harrison is, every day he’s going to get something done,” head coach David Shaw told NBC Sports Bay Area. “On the field, off the field, in the community, he’s always got a million things going on. But nothing ever suffers.

"He does everything at a high level.”

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Phillips is a mountain of a man. His skill set is different than that of Thomas, but he can be just as disruptive. He plays over the center. He plays over the guards. His self-proclaimed job is to eat as many blocks as possible to keep the linebackers free.

“He’s such that hard point for us. He’s that guy up front that’s getting knock back, that force in the run game that you gotta have,” defensive coordinator Lance Anderson explained. “You have to have that strong solid point in the middle of your defense, and he provides that.”

Phillips had a game-high 11 tackles, five of them solo, in the Cardinal’s loss to USC. No other defensive lineman on the field had more than three.

“He’s outstanding against the run. He’s a very good pass rusher,” Shaw added. “He’s got a lot of tools that can work inside.”

Phillips main instruments of domination are strength, knowledge of leverage and abnormal flexibility for a man of his size.

“He can do the splits on command,” Thomas said laughing from in front of his locker after a recent 49ers practice. “He loves showing it off. We get on him for it. But he loves doing it.

And, according to Thomas, his former Stanford teammate loves to bench. So it comes as no surprise that Phillips’ upper body strength stands out.

“He’ll be really low in a position that you think he’d get knocked over in,” Thomas explained. “Because of how flexible he is, it’s not a problem for him to get in that position and stay there and move on from there. It definitely shows up on his film.”

No doubt, Phillips says, that ability comes from his wrestling experience. His high school curriculum vitae includes, “Nebraska State Wrestling Champion, Heavy Weight Division, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.”

Phillips first year on The Farm, he vividly remembers his Stanford coaches testing him. Just a mere 245 pounds at the time, they put him up against Joshua Garnett and Andrus Peat, two offensive linemen now in the NFL and each well over 300 pounds.

“They’d double team me, almost 700 pounds on you, and I would somehow find leverage and be able to sit on some of those double teams,” Phillips said. “I think the violence that wrestling brings, and balance and being comfortable in weird positions, wrestling has a ton of scrambling, as it's called, you just know your body and know what you can do. I have tremendous flexibility, and I use everything to my advantage.”

One thing Phillips is not allowed to do is use his explosiveness away from the football field. At one time, Phillips could do a back flip off the wall, but he no longer attempts it.

“I’m not a big fan of the back hand springs,” Shaw said. “I’d like for him to stay on his feet.”

Phillips doesn’t argue. He lost his entire sophomore year to a knee injury, and doesn’t want to risk another. He has NFL aspirations and put himself in position to graduate in three-and-a-half years should he choose to enter the 2018 draft. But just as he has done at Stanford, he is looking to be more than just a name on a jersey should he play on a professional level.

“I want to build something that is really lasting,” Phillips said of his life goal, “and put my name on something to touch people’s lives and change people’s lives, pay it forward as much as I can.”

No. 6 USC routs No. 14 Stanford for 11th straight win

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USASTI

No. 6 USC routs No. 14 Stanford for 11th straight win

LOS ANGELES  — Steven Mitchell and Deontay Burnett caught two touchdown passes apiece from Sam Darnold, and No. 6 Southern California extended its winning streak to 11 games with a bruising 42-24 victory over No. 14 Stanford on Saturday night.

Darnold went 21 of 26 with 316 yards passing for the Trojans (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12), who snapped their three-game losing streak in this California private-school rivalry. USC racked up 623 total yards and won the first Pac-12 game of the new season by beating the hard-nosed Cardinal (1-1, 0-1) at their own physical game.

Ronald Jones II rushed for 116 yards and scored a touchdown in his ninth consecutive game as USC excelled at Stanford's traditional strengths, running the ball for 307 yards and controlling both lines of scrimmage. Turnovers and penalties by the Trojans kept it fairly close, but freshman Stephen Carr added 119 yards rushing, and Jones cartwheeled into the end zone with a clinching 23-yard TD run with 4:15 to play.

Keller Chryst passed for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while Bryce Love had a 75-yard TD run among his 160 yards rushing for the Cardinal, who hadn't played since their season-opening win over Rice in Australia last month.

After a scoreless third quarter, USC made a 90-yard scoring drive capped by Mitchell's second TD on a feathery 11-yard TD pass by Darnold with 9:42 to play. Stanford stayed close with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside's TD catch with 6:41 to play, but Jones' incredible second TD run capped a smooth 75-yard drive in USC's 11th consecutive win at the Coliseum.

Stanford had won eight of its last 11 meetings with USC in a dominant stretch that began with its historic 2007 upset victory at the Coliseum.

After USC scored 49 points in its season opener, Darnold's offense again was in fine form from the start. USC scored four touchdowns on five lengthy drives in the first half, with Darnold hitting Burnett for two of his three TD passes.

USC moved 74 yards on two plays late in the half to take a 28-17 lead on Burnett's leaping 25-yard TD grab.

THE TAKEAWAY

Stanford: That 62-point performance in the season opener Down Under was impossible to replicate against a top Pac-12 defense, and the Cardinal's offense will know it must add versatility to the attack. Stanford's defense also had big problems at the line of scrimmage, and that isn't a problem with which the Cardinal have much experience.

USC: This talent-laden offense has appeared to have the makings of a juggernaut so far. Darnold returned to 2016 form with a smooth, poised performance against a vaunted conference opponent, while the Trojans' receivers appear to be much more reliable than coach Clay Helton feared. USC's defense also stepped up after halftime and shut down one of the Pac-12's best.

UP NEXT

Stanford: The Cardinal's three-game stretch away from home to open the season concludes at San Diego State.

USC: The Trojans welcome Texas to the Coliseum for a meeting of two powerhouse programs.