Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks rounded out Robert Saleh fourth season as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator. It seems the team is preparing for it to be Saleh’s last with news that at least three teams are preparing to interview Saleh for their vacant head coach jobs.
The Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars are the potential suitors so far, general manager John Lynch told reporters on Monday
Saleh’s departure isn’t certain, but those that worked closest with him throughout the 49ers’ organization seem to be preparing for a difficult goodbye.
“Saleh will go kill these interviews and do a great job,” Kyle Shanahan said during Monday’s season ending press conference alongside Lynch. “I wish him the best of luck in all this.”
How certain are the 49ers that Saleh will earn a promotion elsewhere? Shanahan is already considering some replacements. And he’s not stressed about his options. Linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans would be a top candidate to replace Saleh, he said.
Shanahan confirms LB coach DeMeco Ryans would be a candidate to replace Robert Saleh. Shanahan not stressing, likes options.
“Saleh will go kill these interviews and do a great job. I wish him the best of luck in all this.”
– Cam Inman (@CamInman) January 4, 2021
On Sunday, Shanahan spoke at length about the players’ respect for their fiery defensive coordinator.
“I know how much they respect Robert as a coach and love him as a person. I wouldn’t say today was any extra. It’s why they fight for him every week. When you’ve got a coaching staff that knows what they’re doing and are invested in players, all the guys want to do is be coached the right way and care about that, and Saleh does that as well as good as anyone ..
I was very happy with what he did throughout the whole year. I’ll be very surprised if we don’t lose him. I don’t know what’s wrong with people if they don’t hire him. He’s as good as you can get.
He knows more about football, all three phases, he’s going to hire the best staff, he knows about players, he knows what he’s talking about, he also knows how to deal with people. I hope everyone’s not very smart and doesn’t hire him, so I can keep him. I’m expecting not to have him. We’ve got a lot of other good guys on our staff and I know there’ll be some options. What we’ve built here over the four years with Saleh and the whole coaching staff, we haven’t made many changes. We’ve got a lot of guys who’ve grown together and we have players used to it. We’ll wait to see what happens with Saleh, but I know the Niners will be all right. ”
Dr. Greenlaw explained how Saleh has shaped the 23-year-old linebacker’s early career.
“As far as coach Saleh, the thing I learned from him was – the details of the game, the details,” he said in a call with reporters Monday. “Making sure that every guy is doing their job 100 percent of the time, as good as they can, hard as they can. Saleh said if we bring that every week to the game, we’re going to be one of the most dominant teams. Having the mentality he has, the mindset he has, it carries to us on defense. I don’t know where he’s going to go from here, but I know that mentality will stick with us.
Wherever you go from now, I’m sure you’re going to do great. You have a great legacy here. You definitely got me better in a lot of ways. ”
Saleh is the second coordinator defensive end Arik Armstead has worked with in his six seasons as a 49er.
“We haven’t talked about it,” Armstead said Sunday of Saleh’s possible departure. “He had interviewed last year and we always knew he was a top candidate and great coach. I’m super excited for him. He deserves that. I hope that opportunity comes to fruition. If that’s what he wants to do, I’m happy for him because he’s a great coach and a great man. ”
“He’s an outstanding coach,” free safety Jimmy ward said Sunday. “I’m happy for him. I hope he gets the job. ”
Fred Warner, who won the Bill Walsh and Eshmont awards (the team’s most valuable player awards), has grown into one of football’s most versatile and dominant linebackers under Saleh’s watch.
“He’s meant so much to me,” he said on Sunday. “From the moment coming out in the draft, the belief he had in me and continues to have in me. I can’t thank him enough. He’s an amazing coach. ”
Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek stuck his neck out for Kerry Hyder, who not only filled a need with the flurry of injuries that plagued San Francisco, but transformed himself from an under-the-radar signing to a legitimate force – playing every game this year. He credits Saleh for sticking by him.
“He will be a hell of a head coach,” he said on Monday to reporters.
Saleh’s impact could even be felt from the offensive side.
“I think the biggest thing that you see with Saleh, when you see him on the sideline, those emotions that he’s showing are genuine,” veteran left tackle Trent Williams said to reporters on Monday. “The chest beats, meeting a guy at the hashmarks after they make a good play. His guys love him just as much as he loves them. I say 90 percent of the battle of being a great head coach in this league is being able to relate to your players and being able to motivate them to play. Not only play for themselves, but to play for you, and to please you as a coach. I think he has all those qualities. Not only is he connected with the defensive guys, I built a rapport with him over the last year. ”