After weeks of getting turned down for interview requests from NFL teams, the Raiders turned to the college ranks to find their new defensive coordinator. He is Jason Tarver, former defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach for the Stanford Cardinal.
Though he may not look it, Jason Tarver, at 37 years old, is pretty well experienced in coaching. Prior to his single season as co-defensive coordinator at Stanford, he spent the previous ten seasons in various coaching positions with the San Francisco 49ers.
He is a Northern California native, growing up in Livermore just a few miles east of Oakland where his father was a research scientist at the Lawrence Livermore Lab. Tarver earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1997 from Santa Clara University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He also earned his master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from UCLA and received the departmental prize for distinguished teaching in 1998 and 2000. So, yeah, you could say he is pretty smart.
Despite his two degrees, Tarver chose to coach football. He was offered a scholarship to play at Santa Clara University but they dropped their football program shortly after he arrived. So he went the JuCo route and played at West Valley Junior College while he worked toward his degree. He would later coach at West Valley and then moved on to become a graduate assistant at UCLA while he worked toward his masters degree.
Prior to coaching last season at Stanford, Tarver spent ten seasons in various coaching capacities with the San Francisco 49ers.
Tom Fitzgerald from the San Francisco Chronicle, who knows Tarver well, had this to say about him:
“Here’s all you need to know about his skills as a coach: He was hired by Mariucci, then retained by Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan, and Mike Singletary. Counting Jim Tomsula, who coached the 2010 finale after Singletary was fired, he worked for five head coaches in one organization… Jim Harbaugh would have kept him, too, but David Shaw offered him a key position at Stanford.”
High praise for a man who appears to be a bright young mind in the football world.
Tarver was appointed co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach at Stanford in February 2011 and coordinated one of the top defensive units in the Pac-12. The Cardinal ranked either first or second in the conference in six defensive categories, including rushing defense (1st; 84.4), third-down conversion defense (1st; 31.1), scoring defense (2nd; 21.9), total defense (2nd; 337.6), sacks per game (2nd; 3.0) and opponent first downs (2nd; 17.5). Stanford finished third nationally in rushing defense, sixth in third down conversion defense (31.0; 51-164), and 11th in sacks per game (3.0).
Tarver held many different positions with the 49ers as he worked his way up the ranks. Prior to leaving for Stanford, he coached the outside linebackers for six seasons (2005-10) in San Francisco. He began his time as an NFL coach as many assistants do, as a quality control coach for three seasons (2001-03), before being promoted to assistant running backs/offensive assistant coach in 2004.
Under Tarver’s guidance in 2009, the 49ers outside linebackers recorded 15 takeaways, 17.5 sacks, and nine forced fumbles, setting the edge for a run defense that ranked sixth best in the NFL. That year LB Manny Lawson had a breakout season, leading the team with a career-high 6.5 sacks, while Ahmad Brooks had a career best 6.0 sacks. Parys Haralson also posted 5.0 sacks. Both Lawson and Brooks recorded four forced fumbles, which tied the 49ers’ single season record. The 49ers finished the season ranked tied for third in the NFL in sacks (44), tied for first in forced fumbles (21), and fourth in points allowed per game (17.6).
In 2007, Tarver played an instrumental role in the development of Haralson, who was elevated to a starting role after Lawson was lost for the season with injury during the second week. A year later, Haralson led the team with a career-high 8.0 sacks, a total which tied for second among NFC linebackers.
Expect the rest of the defensive staff for the Raiders to begin filling out immediately. To keep up to date on all hiring and departures among the Raiders coaching staff, visit Raiders coaching staff live blog.