Though there are still three games left to play in the 2022 NFL season, some fans have already turned their attention to 2023 and have begun to ask who will fill the shoes of current San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans, should he leave the team for a head coaching gig once the team’s season comes to an end. One of those fans, Jim L., wrote into Matt Barrow’s 49ers mailbag over at The Athletic in order to ask if the Niners would have any interest in hiring Vic Fangio, and the veteran beat writer responded that he believes the feelings might be mutual.
“If the 49ers had an opening at defensive coordinator today, I think they’d be at the top of Fangio’s list of destinations,” Barrows wrote. “He’s got a strong relationship with Shanahan, the 49ers have all sorts of talent on defense, and Fangio is familiar with the Bay Area from his time with the 49ers and Stanford.
It’s the timing that makes things tricky. What if Fangio gets an offer somewhere else — the Panthers interviewed him for the defensive coordinator spot this week, for instance — while the 49ers are still in the playoff hunt? The longer the 49ers are alive, the less likely it becomes that Ryans gets a head-coaching job because some of the openings inevitably will get filled. That would create a bird-in-the-hand situation for Fangio.
Now granted, maybe all of this is a moot point, as the 2023 coaching cycle could come and go with Ryans left waiting for a partner, but considering the sheer volume of teams who have been interested in the ex-Houston Texans/Philadelphia Eagles linebacker as their new head honcho, that seems like a longshot. If Ryans leaves, a reunion with Fangio would make a lot of sense, as he coached for both Stanford and the 49ers in the past, had multiple really good defenses in Denver with the Broncos, and is the architect of the most influential defensive scheme in the NFL right now.
Vic Fangio Was a Defensive Coordinator Option for the Panthers
After firing Matt Rhule in the middle of the 2022 NFL season, many speculated that the Panthers might opt to hire a younger head coach to help shepherd along a first-time head coach a la Wade Phillips with the Los Angeles Rams and Sean McVay. According to Joe Person, a Carolina beat writer for The Athletic, Fangio was one of the names the team considered to fill said role, going so far as to interview him while still looking for a head coach.
“Panthers interviewed ex-Broncos coach Vic Fangio for their defensive coordinator position, per league sources,” Person wrote on Twitter. “Fangio has been mentioned as possible DC for Sean Payton, but pairing the longtime NFL def coord. with a young, offensive coach like Ben Johnson also could be an option.”
Could Fangio still be in the running for the Carolina job now that Frank Reich has been hired? Only time will tell, but with an experienced head coach now in place, the Panthers may instead opt to hire a coach like Marquand Manuel, who could grow with the team and bring some of the Robert Saleh scheme to Charlotte.
DeMeco Ryans Named ‘a Top Candidate’ for Denver Broncos Job
According to 9News in Denver, Colorado, Ryans is, in fact, a top candidate for the Broncos’ coaching job, with the team expected to bring him in for a second interview after the 49ers-Eagles game, per Pro Football Talk.
While signing up Ryans would be a win for the Broncos, as the team underachieved in 2022 under one-and-done coach Nathanial Hackett, Denver isn’t the only team considering the former linebacker for the role, as the team that drafted him, the Texans, also have a second interview in place with Ryans following the decision to fire Lovie Smith and may hold “sentimental” value to the player-turned-coach, as Mike Florio suggested in an interview with KNBR.