49ers Assistant Already Being Touted for Promotion in 2023

DeMeco Ryans and Fred Warner

Getty The 49ers could lose their brightest assistant coach in 2023.

The San Francisco 49ers will experience a significant change in their coaching staff for 2023, according to many observers. One key assistant is being touted for promotion next year after only adding to his glowing reputation during Week 4’s 24-9 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.

DeMeco Ryans is the assistant earning plenty of fanfare. Several onlookers, including a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, took note of how well Ryans’ unit shut down the Rams usually prolific offense and declared the former Houston Texans linebacker is set for bigger things.

Former Defensive Player of the Year Leads Cheer for Ryans

It’s fair to say Ryans’ defense put on a show on Monday night. The stats make for impressive reading. Seven sacks, one fumble forced and recovered, just 57 rushing yards allowed and a pick-six. Not bad for a night’s work.

Numbers like those prompted many to deem Ryans head-coach material. The calls were led by Hall of Fame defensive back Charles Woodson:

There aren’t many better authorities on the art of defense than Woodson. Not after a glittering 18-year career with the Raiders and Green Bay Packers that included Woodson being named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1998 and Defensive POY 11 years later.

Ryans has his own pedigree as a player, having earned a pair of Pro-Bowl nods with the Texans and spent four productive seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Since then, Ryans has proved himself more than adept in coaching circles by rising from defensive quality control coach to coordinator on the Niners’ staff.

Woodson’s prediction about Ryans’ continued ascent is shared by many, including Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports. He believes Ryans is now overseeing a defense without equal around the league:

Schwab’s right, because Ryans is calling a defense allowing the fewest points and yards in football through four games this season.

He’s managed to achieve these rankings despite injuries to key personnel, including safety Jimmie Ward and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, something that has ESPN Draft analyst Matt Miller also believing Ryans will be running a whole team in the near future:

Ryans’ star is on the rise because he’s making creative use of his best players and putting the talent at his disposal in ideal positions to succeed. Both are hallmarks of a good head coach in the making.

Ryans’ Coaching is Keeping the 49ers Competitive

It isn’t the play-calling of head coach Kyle Shanahan that’s keeping the 49ers competitive in 2022. Shanahan’s offense did show overdue signs of life against the Rams, but Ryans’ defense stole the show.

The D’ shone because of how effectively Ryans used linchpins like rush ends Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam and linebacker Fred Warner. Ebukam went on a tear against his former team by logging two sacks and forcing Rams’ quarterback Matthew Stafford to fumble.

Bosa, meanwhile, also recorded a pair of sacks, taking his tally to six already this season. His first takedown of Stafford came about thanks to a devilish stunt designed by Ryans and his line coach, Kris Kocurek.

They had Bosa run a twist and loop around defensive tackle Arik Armstead, while Warner and Ebukam occupied protection on the other side:

Creating games up front like this one constantly kept Rams blockers guessing and created free rush lanes to get to Stafford. Ryans could simply trust players like Bosa, Armstead and Ebukam to win on talent on alone, but instead, he’s scheming ways for dominant players to be even more productive.

What stood out about the way the 49ers shut down the Rams was how Ryans switched gears after Stafford led an impressive opening drive. Stafford had success with quick throws against the Niners’ familiar four-man rush, so Ryans began blitzing.

He sent Warner and fellow linebacker Dre Greenlaw after Stafford, while cornerback Deommodore Lenoir also got a sack. Adjusting the gameplan successfully is what separates good coaches from average ones, and Ryans already belongs in the former bracket.

Knowing which players can handle difficult assignments is another hallmark of a shrewd head coach. Ryans has this trait, something evidenced by his letting Warner cover Cooper Kupp inside.

A linebacker against last season’s triple-crown receiving leader and Super Bowl LVI MVP is a matchup the Rams should always win, but it didn’t work that way against Ryans’ defense:

Beyond talent, players like Warner handle assignments like this with superior technique and confidence. Two things that are borne from good coaching.

Ryans isn’t exactly flying under the radar, having been interviewed for the top job with the Minnesota Vikings in the offseason. He even rejected a second interview with the NFC North franchise, but Ryans may find it difficult to stay loyal to the 49ers again if more teams come calling in 2023.

The only way that might change is if the 38-year-old is lined up as Shanahan’s eventual replacement.

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