One NFL insider on Thursday, November 17 not only outlined why Ryans made the list of “young NFL coaches to watch,” but detailed what separates the 49ers defensive coordinator from other candidates in this upcoming 2023 cycle.
Ryans Declined Opportunity to be With Contender to Stay With 49ers
For starters, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reminded readers of a story involving how the 49ers nearly lost Ryans after just one season of running the defense.
And Ryans, 38, came close to leading a team that’s emerged as an NFC contender and now shares the best record in the NFL: The Minnesota Vikings.
“The Vikings were so impressed with Ryans after his initial interview last January that they asked to fly him in for a second,” Pelissero began. “Ryans responded by doing something that almost never happens: He declined, telling the team he felt he needed more time to develop.”
Here’s why that decision separated Ryans from most aspiring coaching contenders.
“That speaks to the mentality and maturity of Ryans, a two-time Pro Bowler in his 10 seasons as an NFL linebacker who is now in his sixth year as a 49ers assistant and second as defensive coordinator,” Pelissero wrote.
Deeper Dive Into Ryans’ Coaching Prowess in 2022
Any defensive whiz who gets to coach two All-Pros will already get labeled as a strong head coaching contender. In the case of Ryans, he has Fred Warner and Nick Bosa to work with — and both are flying around destroying anything on site under Ryans including this epic smash from the inside linebacker:
Bosa, meanwhile, is tied for the NFC lead with the Vikings’ Za’Darius Smith at 9.5 sacks. But outside of the two standouts, there are defenders Ryans is coaching who are witnessing career-best marks or set to his new marks under his watch.
Charles Omenihu, for example, is already one sack away from shattering his personal best season mark in 2020 while also being on pace to produce career best number across the board. Fellow trench defender Samson Ebukam is additionally one sack away from tying his personal best of 4.5 while also being on stop behind the line of scrimmage away from tying his previous best total of 6 in 2018. At linebacker next to Warner, Dre Greenlaw, at 65 tackles with an average of 8.125 per game, is on pace for his first 100-tackle campaign.
Then there’s the secondary. Charvarius Ward has put together a Pro Bowl caliber season with allowing a total of just 25 receptions his side for 284 yard (average of 2.7 catches and 31.5 yards per game) according to Pro Football Reference Advanced Stats. Deommodore Lenoir has improved his rookie totals including sacks and tackles for a loss. And there’s Talanoa Hufanga putting together a Pro Bowl caliber campaign with Ryans finding ways to use his hits and ball skills.
Finally, the 49ers have surrendered the fewest yards in the league and are tied at second in fewest touchdown passes surrendered under Ryans.
Ryans has even had to navigate this 49ers defense with key starters Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw and Emmanuel Moseley being out.
“Despite a rash of injuries, Ryans’ unit shows up week after week, playing fast and physical,” Pelissero wrote. “And he takes pride in impacting players on and off the field.”
Finally, there’s this prediction from Pelissero.
“His leadership traits outweigh his relative inexperience, and this could be Ryans’ year — if he decides he’s ready.”