Michigan Ties Could Help One Lions Coaching Candidate Surge

Robert Saleh

Getty Robert Saleh looks on during the NFC title game.

The Detroit Lions have some work to do on the executive side before they hire their next head coach, but already some names are rising to the forefront in the conversation of who should be the team’s next boss.

One name that is expectedly taking the lead early on in the minds of many is Robert Saleh, a defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. Saleh was a hot name on the coaching cycle last year, but like Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, somehow inexplicably didn’t end up getting a job.

That is almost certain to change this year, and early on, folks have been downright clamoring for the Michigan native to get his first shot leading a team in the Motor City. Following the news that the Lions had dismissed Matt Patricia, immediately Saleh’s name began coming up on the internet with regards to the Detroit opening.

Being a Michigan native doesn’t qualify Saleh immediately of course, but in this instance it certainly doesn’t hurt his candidacy. He would be able to connect on the first day with Lions fans and would certainly understand the lay of the land. To that end, many folks think this would be a home run hire.

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.

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 the group. Last season, Saleh helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl with one of the best defenses in the league

Robert Saleh Grew up ‘Huge’ Lions Fan

Growing up in Dearborn, Michigan, Saleh was a huge Lions fan according to those who know him and a person who values his family ties. To that end, the Lions job could have a major appeal to Saleh in the end if he is contacted and the fit could be natural.

Being a Lions fan doesn’t qualify Saleh for the job itself of course, but if there’s a person who would understand what Detroit fans go through with their football team, Saleh would be the guy who would get that on the market. It’s rare to find a coach with hometown ties that understands the market deeply, so for all these reasons plus his defensive acumen and leadership qualities, Saleh could make a ton of sense in Detroit.

Pairing him with the right general manager will be critical, however, which is why it’s important Lions fans don’t put the cart before the horse in this search. There’s a long way to go even if Saleh seems like the slam dunk candidate right now.

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