49ers’ Pro Bowl Defender: Robert Saleh ‘Has to Get Lions Job’

Robert Saleh

Getty Robert Saleh celebrates with a 49ers player in 2019.

The Detroit Lions will be thinking about who to hire in a couple of key positions in the months ahead, and several folks are already stepping up to go to bat for one name in particular at head coach.

Robert Saleh has been a rising star in coaching ranks lately and also could be one of the top candidates this offseason in the NFL. As a result, his name is coming up a ton with regards to the Detroit opening. That is magnified even more when Saleh’s status as a Michigan native. Now, one of Saleh’s top players is loudly campaigning for him to land a job with the Lions.

Recently, San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback Richard Sherman explained to Sports Illustrated writer Albert Breer that his pick for the Lions would be Saleh, and it’s not just due to the fact that he’s a great coach, it’s thanks to his leadership abilities.

Speaking to Breer via text, Sherman specifically said that Saleh “has to get” the Detroit job, because he’s a homegrown guy who also understands what it means to be a leader of men and come up with game plans that are tailored to the strengths of his players.

Interestingly, Sherman considered signing in Detroit once upon a time when Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn had just taken over, but avoided the team thanks to what he perceived as a bad cultural fit. Instead, Sherman ended up going to San Francisco and gambling on Saleh, John Lynch and company. That was a wise move for the veteran cornerback, as he made yet another Super Bowl trip last year. Detroit, meanwhile, just hit the reset button on their franchise again. Suddenly, Sherman’s January explanation for avoiding Detroit makes even more sense.

This time, though, Sherman seems to think that the team could score big if they are able to hire the local guy who’s been a breath of fresh air for the San Francisco defense. His experience with Saleh tells Sherman all he needs to know about how successful he will be as a boss one day, especially if that opportunity comes in Detroit.


Robert Saleh Biography

Saleh, 41, got his coaching start in Michigan as a graduate assistant at Michigan State and Central Michigan after his playing career at Northern Michigan. To this end, he has deep football roots with the state. His NFL start came in 2005 with the Houston Texans when he was a defensive intern. He rose from that to a linebacker coach, and then coached defensive quality control with the Seattle Seahawks and then became the Jacksonville Jaguars’ linebacker coach. Finally, he was tapped by Kyle Shanahan to lead the San Francisco 49ers’ defense where he paired up with Sherman and plenty of other elite players through the last few years.

Saleh’s defenses in San Francisco have been tough and ferocious thus far in his tenure. They are known for great play in the trenches and on the back end, and Saleh’s excitement also helps to drive the group, something which Sherman would no doubt admit as well. Last season, Saleh helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl with one of the best defenses in the league.


What Could Set Robert Saleh Apart From Matt Patricia

It’s possible some folks will think of Saleh and Patricia as the same person considering both are defensive coordinators and have had pretty great success doing so. One thing that is coming up is fit, and certainly, Saleh will understand what he’s walking into in Detroit from day one. Having that understanding could be critical if the Lions want to succeed and find a way to reverse what’s been generations of failure. Patricia thought he could make the Lions into something else, while Saleh would likely understand he has to find a way to mesh with what’s already there and improve upon things.

Regardless, Saleh has the blessing of one of the best defenders in recent league history as it relates to what his next career step should be. Whether the Lions or Saleh agree with Sherman’s assessment is the only thing currently left to be seen.

READ NEXT: Herman Moore Pitches Lions Legend for General Manager Job


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