DeMeco Ryans

49ers Hire DeMeco Ryans As DC, Mike McDaniel As OC

The 49ers have officially promoted inside linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans to defensive coordinator. On the other side of the ball, they’re bumping run game coordinator Mike McDaniel to offensive coordinator, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

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Ryans takes over for former DC Robert Saleh, who has agreed to become the Jets’ new head coach. Many believed that Saleh would try to take Ryans with him to the East Coast, but the 49ers didn’t want to let Ryans get away. Given the work he has done with LBs Dre Greenlaw, Fred Warner, and Azeez Al-Shaair, the young assistant was a natural fit for the role.

McDaniel, meanwhile, takes over for Mike LaFleur, who will serve as Saleh’s OC in New York. McDaniel has worked with Kyle Shanahan at multiple stops and his profile has grown larger over the years. He was a candidate in the Browns’ most recent head coaching search and the Dolphins were also eyeing him as an OC candidate in this cycle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Likely To Promote DeMeco Ryans To DC

The 49ers are expected to promote linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans to defensive coordinator, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Ryans would take over for Robert Saleh, who has agreed to become the Jets’ new head coach. 

[RELATED: Jets Hire Robert Saleh]

Saleh may want to bring Ryans with him to New York, but the Jets would have to work something out with the Niners in order to facilitate the lateral move. Ryans has impressed in SF, molding youngsters Dre Greenlaw, Fred Warner, and Azeez Al-Shaair into quality linebackers. Thanks in part to Ryans’ guidance, Warner went from a third-round prospect to a Pro Bowler in 2020.

Ryans may be tasked with a new-look defense in 2021. Safety Jaquiski Tartt, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, and defensive ends Ronald Blair and Kerry Hyder are set for free agency. Those players could potentially reunite with Saleh on the East Coast, as noted by Matt Barrows and David Lombardi of The Athletic.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Sowers, 49ers, Peterson

Katie Sowers made history as one of the NFL’s first full-time female coaches, and as its first openly gay coach, but she won’t be back with the 49ers next year. Sowers is parting ways with San Francisco, she announced on Instagram. “Dear Faithful,
We have been through so much together over the last 4 years and words will never express how much your love and acceptance meant to me. I will forever cherish the memories and hearing your stories throughout the years. Together, we made a difference in this world. You were there every step of the way..from my first day at Levi’s , to the super bowl, and even when my Dad passed away. You all supported me through it all. Change is inevitable in this life.. enjoy every minute and cherish the memories because time will pass you by faster than you know. One last walk out of the tunnel. I am forever grateful for my time in SF… until we meet again,” she wrote. 

Sowers became the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl last year. She’s been a full-time offensive assistant on Kyle Shanahan’s staff the past few seasons. It doesn’t sound like she has any plans to stop coaching though, and she said in a recent interview with Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle that the lack of a clear path upward was the reason for her departure. “In terms of advancement opportunities, there are more other places than here, in terms of my ceiling for growth. I feel like I have a lot to offer. It’s been an amazing learning experience here, but instead of staying as is, it’s best for my professional growth if I move on.” That doesn’t mean it was a bitter divorce with the 49ers however, as Sowers emphasized that she “loved” her time there.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • Sowers might not be the only staff member Shanahan needs to replace if defensive coordinator Robert Saleh lands a head coaching job. Should one of the handful of teams interviewing Saleh offer him the gig, it sounds like the 49ers could look in-house for his replacement. Linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans is a candidate for the DC role should that happen, Shanahan said at his year-end press conference. Shanahan also added that “it’s a matter of time before DeMeco is coordinator in this league, a matter of time before he’s a head coach.” Ryans played as a linebacker for ten years in the league with the Texans and Eagles before retiring and joining the 49ers as a quality control coach in 2017.
  • The Cardinals are keeping Kliff Kingsbury, but his staff isn’t remaining entirely intact. The team is letting receivers coach David Raih go, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. Raih spent the past two years in Arizona after previously serving the same role in Green Bay.
  • The Cardinals also have a bigger decision ahead of them, what to do with star cornerback Patrick Peterson. Peterson is set to be a free agent this spring, and he recently acknowledged he might’ve played his last down in the desert. “Everything is going to take care of itself. I’ve done all I can to present that I would love to be here. But at the end of the day, it’s up to (the Cardinals),” Peterson said, via Darren Urban of the team’s official site (Twitter link). Peterson also said the potential salary cap drop due to COVID-19 could play a role in where he lands this offseason. Drafted fifth overall by Arizona back in 2011, Peterson has become a franchise icon over the past ten seasons. He’s made eight Pro Bowls and earned three first-team All-Pro selections, but he hasn’t been as good the past couple of years and is now on the wrong side of 30. It’ll be very interesting to see what his market looks like come March.

West Notes: Sherman, Chiefs, Raiders, 49ers

The Seahawks dangled cornerback Richard Sherman in trade talks at this time a year ago, but given that he’s currently unable to pass a physical after undergoing another procedure on his torn Achilles, Sherman won’t be dealt any time soon, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Injured players can’t be traded, and Sherman likely won’t be healthy until training camp. In 2017, Seattle ultimately dropped its asking price for Sherman to a first-round and a mid-round selection, but no deal was ever made. While Sherman may not hit the trade market any time soon, the Seahawks are reportedly shopping veteran defensive lineman Michael Bennett.

  • The Chiefs will retain edge rusher Dee Ford on his 2018 fifth-year option, but given that he’s still recovering from a back injury, they likely didn’t have a choice, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Fifth-year options are guaranteed for injury only, so Ford — like Blake Bortles in Jacksonville — would have earned his money whether he was on Kansas City’s roster or not, provided he couldn’t pass a physical before the new league year begins on March 14. Ford, 26, only managed to appear in six games last season, but he managed 10 sacks as recently as 2016. He’ll earn an $8.718MM base salary for the upcoming year.
  • Marshawn Lynch is not a lock to make the Raiders‘ 2018 roster, and for what it’s worth, the veteran running back reportedly became a “problem” for Oakland’s previous coaching staff in 2017, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Lynch, who got better from an on-field perspective as last season progressed, is scheduled to earn a $4MM base salary next year, and also has a $1MM roster bonus due by March 3, so the Raiders will likely decide on his future with the club by the weekend.
  • After blocking him from an interview with the Titans earlier this year, the 49ers have promoted DeMeco Ryans from defensive quality coach to inside linebackers coach, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). Ryans, who enjoyed a decade-long playing career, is well-respected in NFL circles, and 49ers DC Robert Saleh recently claimed Ryans will someday become a head coach. Additionally, San Francisco announced that it has promoted Keena Turner to vice President and senior advisor to the general manager and promoted Ethan Waugh to college scouting director.

49ers Block Titans From DeMeco Ryans Interview

Early in his coaching career, DeMeco Ryans resides as a 49ers defensive quality control coach. But the team thinks highly of the former linebacker and did not want another franchise poaching him from the staff just yet.

The 49ers blocked the Titans from speaking with Ryans in an interview setting, Jason Wolf of The Tennesseean reports (on Twitter). Ryans and Mike Vrabel‘s time with the Texans did not overlap, with the linebacker having moved on to the Eagles by the time Vrabel got to Houston, but the new Titans coach wanted to meet with him nonetheless.

The 33-year-old assistant played in the NFL from 2006-15 and caught on with Robert Saleh‘s defensive staff. Despite Ryans being set for a low-level assistant job, Saleh gave a glowing assessment of the newcomer last year, helping to explain why San Francisco blocked his possible defection to Tennessee.

DeMeco is probably going to be a head coach one day,” Saleh said in April 2017, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “So, I’ll be asking him for a job I’m sure not long from now. He’s got that type of football I.Q. — that type of presence — and is as knowledgeable as it gets.”

Branch notes one of Ryans’ main responsibilities this season was working with first-rounder Reuben Foster, who made a strong impression as a rookie when healthy. It’s clear he’ll have a chance to learn more from Ryans in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Former LB DeMeco Ryans Joins 49ers Staff

Last summer, linebacker DeMeco Ryans pushed hard to continue his NFL career. Unfortunately, he was unable to find a landing spot in 2016. Now on the verge of his 33rd birthday, Ryans is apparently done playing. Ryans has signed on with the 49ers’ coaching staff as a defensive quality control coach, which signifies that he is officially retired. DeMeco Ryans

[RELATED: 49ers To Have Interest In Jacob Tamme?]

Ryans, released by the Eagles this time last year, spent four seasons in Philadelphia after playing for the Texans for his first six years in the NFL. A two-time Pro Bowler in Houston, Ryans had two strong seasons with the Eagles before an Achilles injury and a reduced role slowed him down. In 2015, he recorded 49 tackles to go along with an interception, a forced fumble, and five passes defended.

When he was unable to find a gig last summer, Ryans indicated that he was comfortable with calling it quits. In July, Dallas Robinson of PFR proposed Ryans as a replacement for Rolando McClain, but Dallas went in a different direction. After a lack of real interest from around the league, Ryans will now begin the next chapter of his football life.

Latest On DeMeco Ryans

Free agent linebacker DeMeco Ryans has made it clear that he’d like to continue his career in 2016, but appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier today, the veteran defender also put forth a laundry list of requirements for any club that might express interest in him.DeMeco Ryans

“At the end of the day, I would definitely like to play for a team that’s a contender, a team that really has a shot, a team that has good leadership at the top, good quarterback, there’s a good nucleus and it’s a team I can just come in and add some veteran leadership to,” said Ryans, who would be entering his age-32 season.

Ryans, released by the Eagles earlier this year, spent the last four seasons in Philadelphia after playing for the Texans for his first six years in the NFL. A two-time Pro Bowler in Houston, Ryans had two strong seasons with the Eagles before an Achilles injury and a reduced role slowed him down a little over the past two years. In 2015, he recorded 49 tackles to go along with an interception, a forced fumble, and five passes defended.

Ryans also said that he wouldn’t be picky about scheme, as he’s played in both 4-3 and 3-4 looks. But he also intimated that although a few teams have reached out to him over the past several months, he may not have a proposal thus far. “To me, there’s no interest until there’s an actual contract offer or something on the table,” Ryans said. “I haven’t had that yet.”

In June, Ryans sounded extremely comfortable with the idea that his career might be over. “Either way, I’m happy spending time with the family,” the veteran ‘backer said. “It’s just a blessing for me to be able to play 10 years in the NFL and have a great career. I have no regrets about it, so it’s great either way. If I could play again, that’ll be great. If not, that’s great as well.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

How The Cowboys Could Replace Rolando McClain

For the second consecutive season, Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain will serve a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse. In 2015, Dallas only had to survive without McClain for a quarter of the season, but given that McClain is facing a 10-game ban for 2016, the Cowboys will need to more seriously consider how they’re going to make up for the loss of their middle linebacker.

We’ve examined how Dallas might go about finding a replacement for McClain, looking at players already on the Cowboys’ roster, free agents sitting on the open market, and veterans who could be on the roster bubble with their respective clubs. Let’s dive in…

Internal options:

The primary name being floated to replace McClain in the middle is third-year linebacker Anthony Hitchens, whom the Cowboys selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. Thing is, Hitchens was already a starter — he played on the inside in Anthony Hitchens (Vertical)McClain’s absence last year, and then moved to the outside, ultimately seeing action on about half of Dallas’ defensive snaps. So if Hitchens is being counted on to man the middle full-time, including in sub packages, the Cowboys would need to find a replacement at strong-side linebacker, meaning Kyle Wilber and/or Andrew Gachkar could see meaningful snaps after spending most of their respective careers as special teams players.

[RELATED: Updated Dallas Cowboys depth chart]

Gachkar, meanwhile, is another option to fill in at middle linebacker, and he has experience at the position. If chosen, Gachkar would likely be a two-down player, as Pro Football Focus’ grades have shown him to be effective against the run but a liability in pass coverage. The 27-year-old has never been a major defensive contributor — he was forced to step into the starting lineup when the Chargers suffered a variety of injuries at the linebacker position in 2014, but even then, he only played on 36.5% of San Diego’s defensive snaps.

The “wild card” in this race is second-year player Mark Nzeocha, according to Bryan Broaddus of the Cowboys’ website. A seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, Nzeocha only appeared in two games during his rookie season, managing 14 snaps, all of which came on special teams. Extremely athletic, Nzeocha was all over the field at Wyoming, playing safety and all three linebacker positions. His learning curve might be steep, but he clearly has all the physical tools to play the position.

A source tells PFR that the Cowboys are, for the most part, satisfied with the current state of their linebacker room, and are looking forward to have their young players compete for playing time while McClain is suspended. Dallas, says the source, hasn’t shown a lot of interest in scouring the free agent market for substitutes, so one of Hitchens, Gachkar, or Nzeocha might be the favorite to earn significant snaps this fall.

Free agents:

Donald Butler — After selecting Denzel Perryman in 2015 and Joshua Perry in this year’s draft, the Chargers parted ways with Butler, who had spent the past five seasons with the club. At age-27, Butler is the youngest free agent option on this list, but he’s coming off the worst season of his career, having posted just 40 tackles during the 2016 campaign. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune accused Butler of “losing interest” after receiving a massive extension prior to the 2014 season, so perhaps some other clubs have made that same assessment.Justin Durant (vertical)

Justin Durant — Durant started 12 games for the Falcons last year, but prior to his time in Atlanta he spent two seasons with the Cowboys, so at the very least he’d offer some familiarity with Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli‘s playbook. Versatility is another point in Durant’s favor, as he played mostly inside linebacker with Atlanta and Detroit, roamed the middle during his Jacksonville tenure, and moved between both positions with the Cowboys.

A.J. Hawk — The Bengals signed Hawk to a two-year deal before the 2015 campaign, but despite injuries limiting fellow linebacker Vontaze Burfict to just 10 games, Hawk rarely saw the field, playing on roughly a quarter of Cincinnati’s defensive snaps. Hawk recently told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that although he’s aware a club might not express interest until late in camp (or perhaps after the season begins), he’s staying in shape in the hopes of receiving a phone call.

David Hawthorne — Like Durant, Hawthorne offers positional versatility, having seen action at both inside and outside linebacker. In 2015, Hawthorne was shifted to the weak side in favor of rookie Stephone Anthony, but was then benched, declared inactive, and ultimately released after an unproductive season. Still, he’s got 83 career starts under his belt, and would presumably feel comfortable in the middle of the Dallas defense.

Keep reading for more external options that could be on the Cowboys’ radar…

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Extra Points: Von, Ryans, D. Murray, Adams

Few in the NFL expect superstar linebacker Von Miller to sit out the season if he and the Broncos don’t resolve their contract dispute, writes Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post, but Kiszla believes doing so in protest of the franchise tag could revolutionize the NFL. If Miller eschews the $14MM tag, skips the 2016 campaign and signs elsewhere next offseason with a team willing to treat him like a full partner – as LeBron James is with the Cleveland Cavaliers, notes Kiszla – it could have a significant impact on the league, the writer opines. However, given Miller’s love for Denver, Kiszla expects the Super Bowl 50 MVP and the franchise to ultimately reach a long-term accord by the July 15 deadline.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • DeMeco Ryans is hoping to play in 2016 but he also understands if that opportunity doesn’t come around. “Either way, I’m happy spending time with the family,” the former Texans and Eagles linebacker told Mark Inabinett of AL.com. “It’s just a blessing for me to be able to play 10 years in the NFL and have a great career. I have no regrets about it, so it’s great either way. If I could play again, that’ll be great. If not, that’s great as well.” Ryans, 31, spent the last four seasons with the Eagles after playing his first six in Houston. A two-time Pro Bowler with the Texans, Ryans had a pair of strong seasons with the Eagles before an Achilles injury and a reduced role slowed him down from 2014-15. Ryans recorded 49 tackles to go along with an interception, a forced fumble, and five passes defended last season.
  • This is usually the time on the calendar in which players who had poor years during the previous NFL season predict better things during the approaching campaign, so it’s no surprise that DeMarco Murray is excited about 2016. Murray’s situation is unique, however, as he went from AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year two seasons ago in Dallas to a free agent bust with the Eagles in 2015. Having once again switched uniforms, this time going from the Eagles to the Titans in a trade, the 28-year-old sees himself as a better fit in Mike Mularkey’s offense than he was in Chip Kelly’s. “It’s strictly downhill and that’s what I’ve been accustomed to my entire life,” Murray told Jim Rome on Wednesday (link via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). “Nothing against last year or what happened, it just didn’t work out, but I’m very excited about this upcoming season and looking forward to it.”
  • Former Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams is adjusting to life with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes and while it’s not what he envisioned for himself, he says that he is focusing on being at his best north of the border, ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert writes. “I can tell you I am not worried about the NFL,” Adams said, “and they’re not worried about me. I’m not even starting here. I want to get bigger and faster and play here. If the NFL comes calling in five or 10 years or whatever, then maybe I might consider it. But as of right now. I’m fine.”

Connor Byrne contributed to this post.

NFC East Notes: Bradford, Ryans, Washington, Donnell

The latest from the NFC East:

  • Having spoken this week at the combine about how they’d like to re-sign Sam Bradford, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and GM Howie Roseman met with the quarterback’s agent, Tom Condon, on Wednesday in Indianapolis, tweets Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Negotiations between the two sides are ongoing.
  • Agent Ben Dogra says the Eagles did not offer to keep DeMeco Ryans at a lower figure, per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News (on Twitter). Dogra added that his client wants to continue his playing career after being cut by Philadelphia.
  • Washington team officials and agents for some of the club’s players will meet Friday to discuss contract restructurings, reports Mike Jones of the Washington Post. Jones lists receiver Pierre Garcon ($10.2MM), defensive end Jason Hatcher ($8.7MM) and safety Dashon Goldson ($8MM) as players whose deals Washington could look to rework.
  • Giants general manager Jerry Reese updated the status of tight end Larry Donnell, whose season ended in December because of a neck injury. “We’re expecting him to be back, but necks can be tricky, so we’ll have to wait and see where that goes,” Reese said Thursday. “Hopefully he can get healthy and come back and continue his career.” Despite Reese’s guarded statement, Donnell’s neck injury isn’t a “career concern,” a source tells the New York Daily News’ Ebenezer Samuel.

Connor Byrne contributed to this post.