Patrick Finley: UA's swat king has hand in 49ers' run

2013-01-28T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:33:45Z Patrick Finley: UA's swat king has hand in 49ers' runPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Exhausted at the end of wearying workdays, Peter Hansen usually sleeps like a hibernating bear.

Not this past week, though.

"I don't know that I feel it all day long, but I noticed I don't go to sleep easily at night,and I always have," he said. "It takes a while to stop tossing and turning."

You'd be excited, too, if you were working the Super Bowl.

The former Arizona Wildcats football and basketball player is the defensive assistant in charge of quality control for the San Francisco 49ers, who play the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in New Orleans.

He works with the defensive staff, breaking down film, attending meetings, and putting coaches' notes into a computer program to draw the playbooks.

He typically works one week ahead, which meant that, early in the NFC playoffs, the 33-year-old had to prepare for as many as three teams at once.

Sunday, he'll sit next to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in the coaching booth, charting what the Ravens offense does on each drive, and translating the terminology into the Niners' language.

It was a logical step for the son of a football coach.

He just didn't know it.

Hansen - who proudly says he attended his first football game before his first birthday - played for his dad Earl at Palo Alto (Calif.) High School.

He came to Tucson as a 6-foot-8 quarterback, but is remembered for a unique special teams skill.

His height made him the perfect "jumper" when the UA tried to block extra points and field goals.

Hansen - who also played tight end - swatted seven kicks in his UA career, including a Nebraska field goal try in the 1998 Holiday Bowl.

He played two years for Lute Olson, too, when the Wildcats' roster was depleted.

"I was born in a football family," he said "Basketball's something I look like I should coach and love, because of my size.

"But really, the only time I loved basketball was playing for Coach O."

After college, though, Hansen wasn't sure he wanted to coach.

He worked six months in construction, and hated it.

So in 2003 he took a job as a player-coach for the Cannes Iron Mask - how great is that name? - in a French football league. His small salary allowed him to travel Europe by train.

The next year, he played basketball for Club Falcon in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Team members were required to coach a youth team. Hansen still remembers installing a little-kid motion offense, and being excited when they ran it well.

"I'm sure the coaching bug was in me," he said, "but that it brought it out."

When he returned to the U.S., Hansen worked on his father's football staff from 2004-07, coordinating the defense the last two years.

In 2008, Jim Harbaugh, who played for Earl Hansen in high school, gave Peter a strength and conditioning internship at Stanford.

Peter Hansen's responsibilities weren't flashy - he opened up the weight room before the sun came up and helped coordinate workouts - but Harbaugh, knowing his career aspirations, let the intern sit in players' and coaches' meetings late into the night.

Hansen was promoted to defensive assistant after one year, and took a similar job when Harbaugh jumped to the NFL in January 2011.

"I love it here," Hansen said.

He still keeps one eye on Tucson.

Hansen won a friendly bet with 49ers quarterbacking supernova Colin Kaepernick when the Wildcats beat his Nevada Wolf Pack in the New Mexico Bowl.

The Arizona State football game, though, lost Hansen bragging rights with two Sun Devils on the 49ers, long snapper Brian Jennings and injured receiver Kyle Williams.

"And I was taunting everybody in the first half," Hansen said sheepishly.

He tries to watch as many basketball games as he can.

That seems like a good project for next week.

"I have a couple games TiVo'd - I know the outcome, but I'll zip through them anyway," Hansen said.

"But probably after the Super Bowl."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

NFL standings and stats


Cardinals schedule (all times Eastern)








Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Featured businesses

View more...

Deals, offers & events

View more...