The Jets are coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history, finishing the 2020 season 2-14. As projected, their head coach Adam Gase was let go and the coaching search began. Saleh, 41, had his first interview with New York via webcam before they flew him out for a second interview earlier this week.
Saleh beat out eight other candidates who were interviewed for the job and Saleh, himself, had other head coaching interviews elsewhere.
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Robert Saleh Works With Depleted Defense
Saleh spent the last four seasons in the Bay Area and prior to that, he was the Jacksonville Jaguars’ linebackers coach from 2014 to 2016.
The Niners may not have made it to another Super Bowl this season, let alone the playoffs, but even with an injury-plagued roster and COVID-19 issues, the defense unit still managed to rank fifth in total defense (316.1 yards allowed per game) to end the season. In three seasons under Saleh, the 49ers have finished 24th, 13th, and second overall.
Saleh learned to work around significant injuries to defensive end Nick Bosa (out for the season after Week 2 with ACL tear) and cornerback Richard Sherman (missed 10 weeks after Week 1 with calf strain).
While he’ll be missed, Sherman is all for Saleh getting a head coaching job elsewhere and recently praised his coaching and leadership abilities.
“I expect him to be a head coach next year, because of what he’s able to do,” Sherman said in a Week 12 postgame press conference. “He’s able to rally men. He’s a leader of men, and that goes a long way.”
Kyle Shanahan Tells Saleh He ‘Can’t’ Take 49ers Coaches With Him
Knowing he would move on to bigger and better things, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear that Saleh can’t take the staff with him, well, at least all of them.
“I keep telling him he’s not allowed to take anyone,” Shanahan said, via NBC Sports. “Sometimes I can ease up a little bit on that, but I usually set the bar very low and we’ll see what happens after.”
NFL head coaches used to be allowed to block their coordinators from even leaving, but the league lifted that rule last offseason, which means Saleh is free to go and anyone can go with him. Shanahan is aware of the league’s changes and knows he may have some additional holes to fill this offseason.
“Once you talk about it, there’s not much to keep talking about,” Shanahan elaborated. “You never know until you see what opportunity he gets and see what his choices are.”
Saleh is set to take 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur, brother of Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, with him to be the Jets offensive coordinator.
Good luck Saleh!