And firing up that engine? Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who was once again lauded for his play-calling performance on Monday, December 5 following the 49ers’ masterful defensive clinic in their 33-17 romp of a Miami Dolphins team in playoff contention.
But was Sunday’s performance finally enough to catapult Ryans as the No. 1 head coaching candidate for the upcoming 2023 cycle? Heavy NFL senior reporter Matt Lombardo spoke with an NFL general manager to help answer that question.
GM Shares True Feeling of Ryans’ NFL Head Coaching Chances
Facing a Dolphins team that featured their own former 49ers assistant turned head coach Mike McDaniel on the other sidelines, Ryans proved that he wasn’t going to allow the former offensive coordinator to out-smart him or get his Dolphins to out-play his defenders.
Even after surrendering a 75-yard touchdown on the game’s opening play, Miami’s next five drives went like this: Punt, punt, field goal, then two more punts. Ryans’ unit held Miami to a combined 82 yards after that Trent Sherfield scamper. Ryans has developed a knack of turning his defenders loose regardless of how high-powered an offense is.
“Ryans has been masterful this season, deploying Nick Bosa like a heat-seeking missile from all over the front-seven, disguising coverages pretty brilliantly deep downfield, and getting the most out of his personnel each week, regardless of opponent,” Lombardo wrote, who added: “There’s a strong belief inside the league and out that Ryans is going to be one of the most sought-after head coaching candidates this hiring cycle.”
But what does one current NFL general manager, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, tell Heavy about Ryans’ head coaching chances following the 49ers’ containment of an electric offense from Miami?
“DeMeco is a great dude,” the NFL GM told Heavy. “And, he’s smart as they come. I don’t know that he’s the top candidate, but he’s high up on the list.”
One Analyst Points to Possible Future Opening Out West
As of Monday, Pro Football Network unveiled who they believed are on the head coaching hot seat. Analyst for PFN Adam H. Beasley began by citing the Chargers’ Brandon Staley being in “deep trouble” and believes “If he doesn’t turn things around immediately, he probably will not get a third chance to get it right.”
Staley’s Chargers fell to a Las Vegas Raiders team 27-20 that now has the Silver and Black a game behind the Bolts in the AFC West standings. While Sean Payton’s name was written down by Beasley as a possible top option if Staley gets fired, he did write down some potential “Plan B” options if the Chargers move on from Staley. One of them? Ryans himself.
In tracing back to the huge win over the Dolphins — which came at the expense of rolling with Purdy at quarterback following Jimmy Garoppolo’s devastating broken foot injury — here’s what else Ryans’ unit accomplished:
Bottling Ex-First Rounder: While Tyreek Hill delivered 9 catches for 146 yards and scored once, Jaylen Waddle was handed one of his worst outings of his young career — just one grab, good enough for 9 yards.
Ex-49ers don’t exact revenge, or gain much yards: Much was hyped about Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson facing the 49ers again, with some words fueling the matchup from Mostert. Both men, however, were held to a combined 33 rushing yards (Mostert led with 30 yards on 7 carries).
Tua Takedown and Takeaways: The 49ers, for the third time this season, delivered a three-sack outing but this time on Tua Tagovailoa. But after the opening touchdown and after Garoppolo went down, the 49ers defense responded with forcing three takeaways — including Dre Greenlaw providing the final exclamation point.
Ryans has the 49ers defense first in six different categories. There’s also one last tidbit that cements Ryans’ rise as a future 2023 head coach: What the 49ers have done in the second half during the last five games — only surrendering a total of seven points during that stretch.
Purdy may now have the keys to the offense. But the defense under Ryans is the one keeping this 49ers engine revving late into December, to the point one NFL GM believes Ryans could soon earn another set of keys.