When the Stanford Cardinal's defense kept them from a Pac-10 championship in 2009 (particularly in the passing game, where they were one of the worst), Jim Harbaugh went to hire the experienced Vic Fangio. Fangio had spent the last half-century assembling defenses in the NFL, including ten years as defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.
What did Fangio do at Stanford? He installed the 3-4 to take advantage of the girth of Sione Fua, moved two defensive ends to outside linebacker spots in Chase Thomas and Thomas Keiser, let Owen Marecic play two-ways, and had them executing an impressive pro-style defense. It was a pretty strong turnaround that had them near the top of the conference in every important category.
Rush defense: 4.23 rush yards allowed per carry in 2009 (T-78th), 3.87 rush yards/carry in 2010 (19th)
Pass efficiency: 139.57 efficiency allowed (98th), 112.82 efficiency allowed (16th)
Scoring defense: 26.5 points per allowed in 2009 (69th), 17.4 points per allowed in 2010 (tied for 9th)
Turnover margin/game: Net zero (T-61st), Plus-one (T-7th)
Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area now reports that Fangio is following Harbaugh to the San Francisco 49ers as their new defensive coordinator. Although the Niners were not a poor defensive team, one of the weaknesses was corner coverage and poor pass rush from the defensive ends. Can Fangio put the personnel of the Niners in the right place?