49ers Tried Stealing ‘Beloved’ Jets Coach, NY Strongly Responds: Report

Robert Saleh, Jets

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh reacting in the middle of an NFL game.

The New York Jets lost a bevy of coaches this offseason, but they almost lost the most important piece to the puzzle.

Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic shared in a column posted on Monday, March 4 that the San Francisco 49ers had “conversations about” stealing defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.

“There was mutual interest in exploring a marriage” between Ulbrich and the 49ers, Rosenblatt explained.

“Ultimately the Jets made it clear that they were not going to let Ulbrich leave,” Rosenblatt said. “Teams can block coaches under contract from taking jobs with other teams unless it is a promotion (from position coach to coordinator, or coordinator to head coach), which was not the case here.”

Rosenblatt described Ulbrich as “beloved” by his players and fellow coaches.

Why Ulbrich Considered Leaving the Jets This Offseason

Adam Schefter of ESPN shared on March 2 that the 49ers promoted defensive passing game specialist Nick Sorensen to the defensive coordinator role.

Before arriving at that decision, the 49ers did “due diligence” on a potential Ulbrich hiring. Rosenblatt said the 49ers never officially requested an interview with him, but there were plenty of conversations had.

Ulbrich has made his intentions clear to the media in the past that he would like to eventually become a head coach in the NFL. Despite his success with the Jets’ defense over the last few years he has yet to garner as much as an interview yet.

One of the reasons for that could be the Jets’ overall lack of winning. That has left Ulbrich’s brilliant performances out of the spotlight.

Rosenblatt noted that two of the last three 49ers defensive coordinators have gone on to become head coaches (Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans). San Francisco has been to at least the NFC championship game in four of the last five years. That period also includes a pair of trips to the Super Bowl.

If Ulbrich made the move from the East Coast to the West Coast, he could put himself in a prime position to realize his NFL head coaching dreams.

“Ulbrich also had reasons beyond football to think about a move to San Francisco: He was born in the Bay Area (in San Jose), and played linebacker and special teams for the 49ers for 10 seasons,” Rosenblatt revealed.

The only likely reason the Jets would have let Ulbrich go to San Francisco is if they received “draft compensation” but Rosenblatt admitted there was no guarantee that Ulbirch would have left when the rubber met the road.

Out With the Old, in With the New

The majority of the Jets’ losses on the coaching staff came on the offensive side of the ball this offseason. While that amount of change was certainly eyebrow-raising, maybe change is a good thing.

New York is coming off of one of the worst offensive seasons in franchise history. Losing a few coaches that were responsible for that can’t be the worst thing in the world.

However, the backbone of the team was its elite defense. Potentially losing the conductor of that train in Ulbrich could have been a devastating loss for the green and white.

Instead Gang Green retained Ulbrich which maximized the team’s winning window. This is an all-in season with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. He is 40 years of age and is coming off of a very serious torn Achilles injury.

Maybe he will be an anomaly and be the four-time NFL MVP right from the get-go. History seems to indicate that won’t be the case.

The Jets need to hope for the best and expect the worst. In other words, Rodgers is going to need help and he can’t do it by himself. The secret sauce to a deep playoff run is this elite Jets defense being able to stay at the top of its game. The chances of that happening in 2024 are a lot better with Ulbrich on the Jets than not.

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