Struggling Team ‘Should Have Paid Attention’ to DeMeco Ryans: Analyst

49ers Panthers

Getty Deommodore Lenoir (left) and Talanoa Hufanga close fast for the 49ers on October 9, 2022.

The Carolina Panthers may ought to consider going back to watching film on Sunday, October 9 involving a certain member of the San Francisco 49ers, one NFL analyst writes.

No, it’s not tape of Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, Deebo Samuel, Jimmy Garoppolo or even Jeff Wilson. It’s someone else who was seen galvanizing the 49ers — and a 49er who’s been the subject of changing the fortunes for a franchise in 2023.

And his name surfaces off the heels of the Panthers firing head coach Matt Rhule on Monday morning, October 10 after the 49ers rolled to the 37-15 romp.

Panthers ‘Should Have Paid Attention’ to 49ers DC

The Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer has unveiled his list of top head coaching suitors for the now 1-4 Panthers.

And the first defensive-minded option he wrote down? DeMeco Ryans.

One reason why Iyer believes the 38-year-old Ryans will be a fit in Charlotte: The way he interacts with his players.

“The Panthers should have been paying close attention to the way Ryans, the former star [Houston] Texans linebacker, fired up his defense for a dominant performance in Carolina,” Iyer said. “Ryans has a ton of energy and has also proved to be an excellent 4-3 schemer. His presence would be a nice wake-up call to maximize the pieces on his side of the ball, but he also would mesh well with a better 49ers-like complementary offense.”

Iyer isn’t the only one who believes Ryans can fit Carolina. Dallas Robinson of the Pro Football Network echoes a similar sentiment, plus envisioning how a cat-quick defender on the Panthers could benefit from Ryans’ coaching.

“The Panthers got an up-close-and-personal look at the 49ers defense that Ryans has cultivated on Sunday when San Francisco shut down Carolina’s offense en route to a 37-15 victory. Ryans seamlessly took over the 49ers’ defense from Robert Saleh two years ago, and he’s arguably turned it into a more productive unit. Imagining Brian Burns in a Ryans-led defense should be illegal,” Robinson wrote.

And in looking closely at Ryans’ game plan in back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Rams and the Panthers, you’ll see how Ryans dialed up the pressure with more blitz-heavy schemes against vulnerable offensive lines.

Outside of an already loaded defensive line for the 49ers, Ryans has managed to get nickelback Deommodore Lenoir, safeties Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson plus linebackers Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and Oren Burks involved on piling the sacks. This could be music for the ears of Panther defenders Damien Wilson, Shaq Thompson (who played in Super Bowl 50 as a rookie) plus young defenders Jeremy Chinn and Jaycee Horn.

How Ryans Could Fit in Carolina From Historical Viewpoint

One reason why the Panthers parted ways with Rhule after nearly three seasons: His inability to connect with players.

“One caveat: When the locker room stopped believing in Matt Rhule,” said NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. “When you look down the field in the second half in the pretty ugly loss to the 49ers, the effort wasn’t great, the way they were playing wasn’t great, that wasn’t what [owner] David Tepper wanted to see. And when that happens, then you start thinking that maybe, change is necessary.”

Rhule was also making the leap from NCAA Division I college football to the league, with only one season of prior NFL experience (2012 with the New York Giants) in tow but past head coaching stints with Temple University and Baylor. His name is likely to come up for prominent openings in Colorado and Nebraska among others.

But if Carolina wants to dip back into what’s worked before, here’s one benefit Ryans has that could give him the upper hand in the coaching search: Carolina’s most successful coaches were all defensive minds. But there’s more. The three head coaches who took the Panthers to either the NFC title game of Super Bowl — Dom Capers, John Fox and Ron Rivera — were all fast-rising defensive coordinators who earned their first head coaching job with the Panthers.

Ryans would be the latest to go from defensive coordinator to full head coaching reins in Charlotte if the Panthers pivot to the Bay Area.

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