Kentucky football hires 49ers QB coach Rich Scangarello to replace Liam Coen

Jon Hale
Louisville Courier Journal

LEXINGTON — Mark Stoops has found his replacement for Liam Coen at offensive coordinator.

UK confirmed the hire of San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello as its next offensive coordinator Friday evening. Scangarello, 49, is the second 49ers assistant to join Stoops' staff this offseason, following new UK offensive line coach Zach Yenser.

Scangarello fills the opening created when Coen was hired by the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams as their new offensive coordinator.

"When the Rams hired Liam Coen, I knew I wanted to find a replacement that would continue what we’ve built here,” Stoops said in a news release. “We just hired Zach Yenser from the 49ers to coach the offensive line and having both Rich and Zach, who come from the same (Mike and Kyle) Shanahan tree, (Sean) McVay tree and Coen tree, not only bring a wealth of experience but they also help keep continuity. It’s a seamless transition.

"Rich is inarguably one of the best quarterback coaches in the country. Rich is experienced, he’s coached elite quarterbacks, he’s called plays in the NFL and college, and the fact that he is interested in this job just shows the growth of our program. We have hired two coaches from one of the best organizations in all of sports. I couldn’t be more excited about where our program is headed.”

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, left, talks with quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021.

Under head coach Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers run an offense that developed from the same coaching tree that produced Rams coach Sean McVay and Coen. The move would allow Stoops to keep the same offensive scheme Coen ran to great success a year ago and the Wildcats have recruited several new wide receivers to play in.

Scangarello joined the 49ers as quarterbacks coach last year, returning to the franchise where he served in the position from 2017-2018. He spent one year as the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator in 2019. He also made NFL stops with the Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles.

The California native's most recent college coaching experience came as offensive coordinator at FCS Wagner in 2016.

"I’m very excited to be coaching at Kentucky and in the Southeastern Conference,” Scangarello said in the release. “The timing was perfect for me to be a coordinator again especially under a head coach who has a vision for the offense we will run. His belief in a pro-style system felt like the right opportunity for me and at the right time. I’ve watched UK play on film and I really like the quarterback, Will Levis. Seeing how he plays in this high-level system was part of the appeal. I think we will continue doing great things and I’m ready to get started."

Scangarello has enjoyed an unorthodox career path, making the leap between small college programs and and the NFL multiple times. His first full-time coaching position came at Division III Carleton in 2001. Stops as a position coach at Idaho and UC Davis followed before he made his first jump to the NFL as a Raiders quality control coach in 2009.

He left the Raiders for the offensive coordinator job at Division III Millsaps after one season. Two seasons at Millsaps were followed by two seasons as offensive coordinator at FCS Northern Arizona before a season jump to the NFL as a quality control coach with the Atlanta Falcons.

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After one season in Atlanta, Scangarello returned to the small-college ranks for one season at Wagner. His first stint as 49ers quarterbacks coach followed before he was hired as Broncos' offensive coordinator in 2019. The Broncos fired him after one season, leading to a season as an Eagles offensive assistant before his return to San Francisco.

"It's not out of choice, really. I'm not sure anyone would choose specifically that route," Scangarello told ESPN in 2019. "The reality of it is the NFL is a very difficult league to get into, people don't hire you unless they know you in some fashion. You need advocates. But I knew where I wanted to be so I did what it took to get here."

Scangarello is expected to be on campus in time for the start of spring practice in early March.

Email Jon Hale at jahale@courier-journal.com; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ