49ers’ DeMeco Ryans Reacts to Facing 2 Ex-Teammates in NFC Title Game

DeMeco Ryans

Getty DeMeco Ryans on July 31, 2021 in Santa Clara during training camp.

There was a time DeMeco Ryans sat in the locker room of the Philadelphia Eagles for his final four seasons in the league — all during a time Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham were with him.

Once Sunday, January 29 arrives at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly, the former linebacker Ryans will be coming out of the visitors locker room with the San Francisco 49ers…aiming to deny his former teammates and the Eagles the NFC title.

Ryans sounded off on seeing his old Eagle teammates again when speaking with the Bay Area media on Thursday, January 26 as the NFC Championship game looms. Cox and Graham were young defenders sitting in a defensive room with a veteran presence in Ryans. Both would go on to establish themselves as permanent starters alongside Ryans but now, they’ve become the elder statesmen in the Eagles’ locker room. Ryans, though, views both of his Ex-teammates as ones who have yet to show decline.

“Fletcher and Brandon have always been playmakers,” Ryans began. “They’ve always played on the other side of the line of scrimmage.”

Both Have Always Impacted Eagles, Ryans Said

The trio began their Philly run together in 2012. With Cox, now a 32-year-old interior defender, Ryans saw an immediate impact defensive lineman.

“I know Fletcher, when he first came in as a rookie, you saw it right away: The talent that he had, the strength that he had,” Ryans recalls. “He separated himself, so he’s been a playmaker for over 10 years in the league and he’s been consistent throughout his career.”

Graham, meanwhile, is now one of the older Eagles at 34. But Ryans vividly remembers a consistently disruptive edge defender.

“And then Brandon Graham on the edge, they probably tried to get rid of him a few times, but he still finds a way to stick on there and still is able to get after the quarterback, so it’s impressive to see what BG has done for his entire career there in Philly: A guy who’s been very disruptive and Fletcher and BG, they don’t change,” Ryans said. “They’re still getting after it, getting after the quarterback, making plays, so it’s going to be a tough challenge for our offense.”

Both also would go on to become members of the first Super Bowl winning Eagles team in the 2017 season. As they aim for their second Vince Lombardi Trophy, Ryans is one game away from getting his first Super Bowl taste.

Ryans Now Front Runner for AFC Opening: Insider

Ryans isn’t just preparing his defense for a high-octane Eagles offense. Once the NFC title game ends he can resume head coaching interviews.

But per Mike Klis of NBC 9 in Denver on Thursday morning, Ryans has emerged as the front runner for the open Denver Broncos head coaching job.

Klis mentioned how former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, Ex-Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn were candidates who remained in the mix. However, Quinn pulled out of any head coaching interest per NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero on Thursday afternoon and Ryans “appears to be a top choice” per Klis.

However, NFL rules state that the Broncos cannot interview Ryans for a second time until after the NFC title game. Denver and the Broncos’ front office can then conduct a follow interview with Ryans until as early as Monday, January 30.

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