FEBRUARY 7: Houston has also put in a request to interview Manuel, reports Aaron Wilson of KPRC2. That comes as little surprise, given the Texans’ previously noted interest in him following Ryans’ HC hire. Manuel, 43, spent two years as a defensive coordinator in Atlanta, and has since worked with the Eagles’ and Jets’ defensive backs.
Wilson also notes that Kocurek is no longer on the Texans’ radar not due to a lack of interest, but rather the overwhelming belief that he will remain in San Francisco. He, along with Undlin, represent logical internal replacement candidates for Ryans with the 49ers. Undlin had been reported to be “in the mix” for that position by SI’s Albert Breer, but Wilson tweets that the 51-year-old’s contract with San Francisco has expired. As a result, he is free to explore opportunities below the coordinator level, including in Houston and elsewhere.
FEBRUARY 6: The Texans are looking to fill out their staff under new head coach DeMeco Ryans, reportedly requesting to interview former Commanders defensive backs coach Chris Harris for the defensive coordinator job in Houston, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Harris had reportedly been the Titans’ planned hire as defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach, but no official statement was ever made.
It seemed that Harris was off the market due to the Titans’ plans, but a little over a week later, the 49ers reportedly had interest in interviewing Harris for their defensive coordinator position. After that, it began to seem that Harris would allow his greater options to play out before committing to Tennessee. Harris did interview with San Francisco, and the 49ers’ coordinator hiring process is still ongoing, plus now Harris has been connected to Houston’s search.
Harris isn’t the only name that’s been mentioned in Houston so far. A little over a week ago, the first few names of interest were reported. Jets safeties coach Marquand Manuel, 49ers passing game specialist/secondary coach Cory Undlin, and 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek were all mentioned as candidates of interest in Houston. Manuel is the only one of the four who has experience as a defensive coordinator, but with Ryans leading the team, it appears prior experience is not a requirement.
The intriguing scenario around Harris has been prolonged, as he is still receiving significant interest for open defensive coordinator jobs. In Houston he’ll be forced to compete with two of Ryan’s former San Francisco underlings in Undlin and Kocurek, but Harris has certainly been a hot name in coaching circles. His ascent up the coaching ladder is sure to continue next year whether he accepts the offer in Tennessee, replaces Ryans in San Francisco, or joins him in Houston.