February 8, 2020 / 2:56 AM / 10 days ago

NFL notebook: Browns hire ex-49ers aide Woods as DC

The Cleveland Browns officially hired former San Francisco 49ers defensive backs/run-game coordinator Joe Woods as defensive coordinator on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during their NFL NFC wildcard playoff football game in New Orleans, Louisiana, January 7, 2012. REUTERS/Sean Gardner

Woods was reportedly the favorite for the job for weeks, but he did not want to turn his focus from the 49ers during their run to Super Bowl LIV. He’ll reunite with new head coach Kevin Stefanski, whom he knows from the Minnesota Vikings.

“Just from tradition, pride and the fanbase, I know they’re craving for a winner and I know we’re very close,” Woods told the Browns website of his new team. “I feel like if we can get it done, the whole city will erupt. I look forward to that challenge.”

Woods, 49, spent eight years with the Vikings on the same staff as Stefanski, as both joined Minnesota in 2006. While Stefanski remained in Minnesota in a variety of roles until this January, Woods spent a year as the Oakland Raiders’ defensive backs coach (2014), four with the Denver Broncos (2015-18) — including as coordinator the final two seasons — and this year with the 49ers. He signed a one-year contract with the 49ers, allowing him to go anywhere this offseason.

—The Philadelphia Eagles announced several changes to their football operations, including the hiring of former players in running back Darren Sproles, tight end Brent Celek and linebacker Connor Barwin. Sproles and Celek will each be personnel consultants, while Barwin was named special assistant to the general manager.

Sproles, 36, announced his retirement in December, after he had already landed on injured reserve with a torn right hip flexor muscle. He spent the last six seasons with the Eagles, following three years with the New Orleans Saints (2011-13) and six with the then-San Diego Chargers (2005-10).

Celek, 35, last played in 2017. He retired following the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII title, ending an 11-year career spent entirely in Philadelphia. Barwin, 33, retired after the 2018 season. He spent his final two years with the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants, after four years with the Eagles (2013-16) and four with the Houston Texans (2009-12).

—49ers tight end Garrett Celek announced that he is retiring from the NFL, ending an eight-year career.

“Niner Faithful, thank you for cheering me on these past 8 seasons, love y’all, Celektime is clockin out,” he wrote in an Instagram post. Celek, 31, said leading up to Super Bowl LIV that he was considering retirement. He played in just five games this season, landing on injured reserve in December with a back injury.

Celek had back surgery last summer to repair a herniated disk, but he does not expect to need another surgery, according to NBC Sports Bay Area. In eight seasons, Celek totaled 82 catches for 1,104 yards and 12 touchdowns in 91 games (31 starts).

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