DeMeco Ryans

49ers DC DeMeco Ryans To Be Top HC Candidate In 2023

49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is expected to be one of the top head coaching candidates in the 2023 hiring cycle, as Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes. Citing multiple league sources, Jones says it would be a surprise if Ryans does not land an HC post next year.

Ryans, 38, has earned plenty of recognition for his work with the Niners’ defense. After his playing career ended in 2015, the Alabama product joined San Francisco as a defensive quality control coach in 2017, served as inside linebackers coach from 2018-20, and succeeded Robert Saleh as DC when Saleh left to become head coach of the Jets in 2021.

In his first year in his current role, Ryans’ unit ranked third in the league in total defense — a performance that helped San Francisco reach the NFC title game — and through the first five contests of the current campaign, the 49ers are tops in the NFL in that category. The team is presently yielding a meager 12.2 PPG and has not surrendered more than 19 points in any game this season.

Said one personnel executive, “DeMeco sees it differently. There’s something different when a middle linebacker is calling the defense. He has to know what’s going on in front of him and behind him. The structure of the scheme was already in place, but he took some of the nuance out of it so guys could just line up and play.”

Indeed, Ryans was a successful middle linebacker during his playing days, serving as a full-time starter for the Texans from 2006-11 and the Eagles from 2012-15. He posted over 100 tackles in six different seasons, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2006 and Pro Bowl acclaim in 2007 and 2009. Per Jones, Ryans’ relationship with 49ers star ILB Fred Warner and his role in Warner’s development have been key to his success as DC.

Head coaching interviews will not be new territory for Ryans, who garnered notable attention in the 2022 cycle. He interviewed for the Vikings’ head coaching post and had a chance for a second summit with Minnesota brass but ultimately declined the opportunity, citing his desire to “further his development in San Francisco.” He was also mentioned as a candidate for the Raiders’ HC gig that ultimately went to Josh McDaniels.

Assuming Ryans does get an HC opportunity in 2023, Vic Fangio would be a leading candidate to replace him as San Francisco’s DC, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic (subscription required). Barrows does not elaborate on that point, so it’s unclear if he has a bead on the team’s thinking or if he is merely acknowledging the fact that Fangio may well be the top defensive coordinator on the market.

Fangio’s three-year tenure as the Broncos’ head coach from 2019-21 did not go as planned, but he remains one of the most influential and respected defensive minds in the game. He declined multiple offers for DC positions this year, though he indicated in August he would be open to another coordinator role in the future. Of course, he previously operated as the 49ers’ DC under then-head coach Jim Harbaugh from 2011-14, and it seems a reunion could be in the cards.

Panthers’ Post-Rhule Fallout: Termination, Replacement, Trades

The NFL news circuit was set ablaze today when news broke of the firings of Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. The termination of Rhule was not necessarily a surprise, as he’s been firmly on the hot seat all year and the possibility of firing Rhule had been discussed “well before” today, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, but it did create a newsworthy fallout of information that is of interest to those who follow the sport.

Many have talked about the contract implications of Rhule’s termination, alluding to the millions of dollars still remaining on his contract. While it’s completely applicable to Rhule’s situation, it doesn’t sound like it is a concern to Carolina. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted out that “Carolina is on the hook for this season, but the salaries for the ensuing seasons are offset by what his future college job pays him.” Essentially, Rhule will absolutely get his guaranteed money, but the onus won’t be on Carolina to pay it. Whenever Rhule, who is presumed to be a top college coaching candidate for next year, gets another job, his salary from the new school will offset the amount the Panthers owe him.

It was also announced that Panthers defensive passing game coordinator & secondary coach Steve Wilks will sub in as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The defensive-minded former head coach of the Cardinals has apparently already begun to make the team his own. When Panthers owner David Tepper was asked why Snow was fired, he reportedly pointed the finger at Wilks, telling reporters to direct that question to the interim head coach, according to ESPN’s David Newton.

Here are a few more fallout items from today, starting with some ideas on Rhule’s replacement:

  • The biggest nugget to come out of today concerning Carolina is that, as most NFL executives expected Rhule to lose his job, many in league circles are expecting the Panthers to start dealing veteran assets in an attempt to accrue draft capital that might make the head coaching position more attractive, according to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. The Panthers currently only hold four draft picks for 2023: first-, second-, fourth-, and fifth-round picks, supporting the idea that trading away veterans could improve their current situation. Trading away veterans with expensive contracts, such as star running back Christian McCaffrey or wide receiver Robbie Anderson, could prove troublesome, according to La Canfora, so the Panthers are reportedly willing to eat some of those salaries in order to facilitate moving those assets. Early reports claimed that the Bills have reached out about McCaffrey and that they did in the offseason, as well, according to Person, but Tom Pelissero of NFL Network clarified that, while every team will be calling about McCaffrey, the Panthers haven’t engaged in any trade talks yet. In addition to McCaffrey and Anderson, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports expects wide receiver D.J. Moore, defensive end Brian Burns, and defensive tackle Derrick Brown to be on the table.
  • Jeff Howe of The Athletic posed the question today of who might replace Rhule and offered quite a few suggestions. Howe started the list with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn who took the Falcons to the Super Bowl as head coach in 2016. Next, he mentioned 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Ryans interviewed for the Vikings’ job this offseason and was expected to interview for the Raiders’, as well. The 38-year-old has rocketed up coaching boards since retiring as a player in 2015. Another name mentioned was Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon who also interviewed for the Vikings last year, in addition to the Texans and Broncos. Howe went into great detail on every candidate, seeming to list anybody who may be up for a head coaching job in the next few seasons. His list included former NFL head coaches including the retired Sean Payton, Steelers senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, and former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, as well as the current interim head coach, Wilks. Other serious candidates Howe mentioned were Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, and Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The list essentially devolved into an article about anybody who may make the jump to NFL head coach in the next few seasons, pointing out “wait and see” candidates such as Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, and Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
  • One interesting name that came out of today’s rumors was former Panthers All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly. Joe Person of The Athletic advised that an eye be kept on Kuechly, who remains close with Wilks and new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb, to come back in some capacity. After retiring from a pro scout position last year, Kuechly has been working as an analyst on Panthers radio broadcasts.

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints created nine full-time vacancies available this year.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 2-7-22 (1:45pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Jim Harbaugh To Meet With Vikings, Patrick Graham Gets Second Interview

We’re starting to get even more clarity on the Vikings head coaching search. According to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (on Twitter), Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will get a second interview with Minnesota. Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter), Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will visit Minnesota for an in-person interview on Wednesday.

Serving as New York’s defensive play-caller during Joe Judge‘s tenure, Graham improved the unit considerably in 2020. The Giants ranked ninth in scoring defense, after their 2019 unit ranked 30th. But the team regressed this season, falling back to 23rd. DVOA slotted Graham’s second Giants defense 18th, however.

Harbaugh had a chat with the Vikings on Saturday, and there have been reports that the Vikings wanted an in-person interview with the current Michigan coach. They’ll ultimately get their wish, and Harbaugh will take another major step in returning to the NFL. Harbaugh, 58, spent four seasons with the 49ers before leaving for Ann Arbor after the 2014 season. He has been connected to various teams in the past, but this year represents the closest link to the former NFC champion coach returning to the NFL.

Meanwhile, Pelissero notes (on Twitter) that 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has declined a second interview with the Vikings, with Ryans looking to “further his development in San Francisco.” That leaves four candidates for the job: Graham, Harbaugh, and Rams coordinators Kevin O’Connell and Raheem Morris.

Vikings To Conduct Second Interviews With DeMeco Ryans, Kevin O’Connell; Jags Also Interested In O’Connell

49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell will be matching wits in today’s NFC Championship Game. And they are also competing against each other for the Vikings’ head coaching job.

Per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, Minnesota plans to conduct second interviews with both Ryans and O’Connell this week. Ryans, whose unit ranked third in yards allowed and tenth in points allowed in his first season as DC, is also said to be a candidate for the Raiders’ head coaching post. However, with Las Vegas seemingly zeroing in on Josh McDaniels, the Vikings’ gig may be Ryans’ only real chance to earn a promotion to HC in this year’s cycle.

O’Connell, who spent the 2019 season as Washington’s OC before joining the Rams in that capacity in 2020, oversaw an offense that finished in the top-10 in terms of both points per game and yards per game in 2021. A member of the popular Sean McVay coaching tree, O’Connell was a finalist for the Broncos’ HC job that ultimately went to Nathaniel Hackett, and he has also taken a head coaching interview with the Texans. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, the Jaguars also want to sit down with O’Connell.

There is some confusion in Duval at the moment, which is not unusual for Jags fans. Earlier this week, we heard that the club was on the cusp of hiring Bucs OC Byron Leftwich as head coach and Cardinals vice president of pro scouting Adrian Wilson as general manager. According to Rapoport, neither hire “came close to happening,” and while Leftwich remains a candidate for the job — perhaps if the Jags agree to replace embattled GM Trent Baalke with Wilson — O’Connell has emerged as a late entrant to the race. The 36-year-old is reportedly a “big fan” of Jacksonville QB Trevor Lawrence, and Rapoport says O’Connell could quickly become the team’s top choice.

The problem for the Jags, as Pelissero notes in a follow-up tweet, is that, if the Rams defeat the 49ers today, Jacksonville would be unable to interview O’Connell until after the Super Bowl since it did not conduct an interview during the week of the divisional round. So, if the Rams win and the Vikings decide O’Connell is their guy, the Jaguars wouldn’t even have the chance to make a pitch.

In addition to Ryans and O’Connell — both of whom were employed by the Niners during new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah‘s tenure there — Pelissero confirms that the Vikes still want to have an interview with Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh. We heard yesterday that an interview was scheduled to take place, but Pelissero says the only thing that has happened so far is an “exploratory conversation” to gauge Harbaugh’s interest. Still, a formal interview could happen this week, and Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network classifies the relationship between Harbaugh and Adofo-Mensah — who also, of course, share significant 49ers connections — as a strong one.

Vikings Interview DeMeco Ryans

The Vikings interviewed DeMeco Ryans for their head coaching position on Sunday afternoon, per a club announcement. The 49ers defensive coordinator, who is also in the mix for the Raiders’ vacancy, is one of ten candidates being considered by Minnesota. 

Ryans, a longtime NFL linebacker, has been with the Niners since 2017. After one season as SF’s defensive quality coach, Ryan coached the team’s inside linebackers for three seasons before graduating to defensive coordinator in 2021.

Now, he’s making a strong case for another step up, especially after his defense held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to just ten points on Saturday. In the regular season, his Niners D finished third in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed. While Ryans remains focused on the NFC Championship Game, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him land a head coaching job in the coming weeks.

For now, Ryans is one of just a handful of known candidates on the Raiders’ radar, alongside interim HC Rich Bisaccia, Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, and (possibly) Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh. Meanwhile, the Vikings’ list includes:

Matt Rhule Eyeing Michigan Job

With next season looking more and more like a make-or-break year for Matt Rhule, the Panthers’ head coach may be making anticipatory moves to stay employed. Jason La Canfora, of CBS Sports, reported that Rhule, and potentially other head coaches in the NFL, may set their sights on the University of Michigan opening, should current head coach Jim Harbaugh be drawn to Las Vegas. 

Harbaugh is currently negotiating with Michigan after he led the Wolverines to their first College Football Playoff appearance and their first outright Big Ten Championship since 2003. He had signed an extension at the start of the season to secure him in Ann Arbor through 2025, but, with mounting interest from the Raiders, the negotiations are giving Michigan a chance to convince him to stay. The Raiders are searching for a new general manager as well as head coach, following the departures of Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden. Harbaugh isn’t the only target in Vegas, though. He’ll have to compete with interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who, despite a season of turmoil, led the Raiders to a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Jerod Mayo and DeMeco Ryans have also been mentioned as candidates.

Rhule’s interest in heading back down to the college ranks of coaching have not quite been a secret. Sources have informed La Canfora that Rhule was watching the situations at Penn State and LSU closely, in case a beneficial opportunity presented itself.

Rhule got his first head coaching opportunity at Temple in Philadelphia, where he had spent years as an assistant under Al Golden. He took his first Power 5 opportunity as the head coach at Baylor, following the scandal that led to Art Briles‘s dismissal. He took the Bears from 1-11 in his first season to 11-3 in his third season and rode that success straight to the NFL.

There are still many situations that need to play out. Harbaugh would have to leave Michigan. Rhule would have to decide to put his name in the ring for the vacancy at Michigan. Michigan would have to determine that Rhule is the best candidate for the position. None of this is guaranteed, but, if it all plays out, look for Carolina to be added to our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.

Raiders Expected To Interview 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans

While DeMeco Ryans is surely focused on his showdown with the Packers tonight, the 49ers defensive coordinator has garnered another interview. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the Raiders are expected to interview Ryans for their head coaching vacancy.

The former NFL linebacker has been on the 49ers coaching staff since 2017, and he was promoted to defensive coordinator last offseason after Robert Saleh left for New York. During his first season in the role, the 49ers defense ranked third in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed.

We previously learned that Ryans was on the long list of candidates for the Vikings HC job. Indeed, Schefter notes that the defensive coordinator is set to meet with Minnesota on Sunday.

This is the fourth name connected to the job in Las Vegas, with Ryans joining a group that includes:

Vikings Request Permission To Speak With Six More Coaches About HC Job

And like that, we’ve got a growing list of candidates for the Vikings HC job. Following news that the Vikings requested permission to interview Todd Bowles for the gig, we’ve learned that the organization requested permission to interview six additional coaches:

  • Jonathan Gannon, defensive coordinator (Eagles) (via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter)
  • Nathaniel Hackett, offensive coordinator (Packers) (via Pelissero on Twitter)
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Cowboys) (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter)
  • Kevin O’Connell, offensive coordinator (Rams) (via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Twitter)
  • Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator (Cowboys) (via Pelissero on Twitter)
  • DeMeco Ryans, defensive coordinator (49ers) (via Pelissero on Twitter)

Five of those coaches have already been connected to other HC vacancies, but this is the first reported interview request for Ryans. The former NFL linebacker has been on the 49ers coaching staff since 2017, and he was promoted to defensive coordinator last offseason after Robert Saleh left for New York. During his first season in the role, the 49ers defense ranked third in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed.

Of course, the Vikings may not be sticking with only seven candidates. ESPN’s Courtney Cronin tweets that the Vikings have also explored the candidacy of Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

Per Pelissero (on Twitter), the Vikings are hoping to find a replacement for former GM Rick Spielman before they hire a replacement for former HC Mike Zimmer. However, considering the anti-tampering rules, the Vikings only have until Sunday to interview coaches on byes, so they have reason to speak with someone like Hackett ASAP. The Vikings plan to kick off their GM interviews on Sunday, with Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort first in line.

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.

[RELATED: 49ers Re-Sign Josh Johnson]

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.