This is the time of year when assistant coaches on NFL staffs has their phones buzzing or email alerts chiming regarding possible head coaching jobs, including members of the San Francisco 49ers staff.
Already, offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel has been requested for an interview with the Miami Dolphins, with Tom Pelissero tweeting the update on Tuesday, January 11.
However, the one assistant many thought would be on some NFL head coaching radars hasn’t received a call yet per 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan: DeMeco Ryans.
Which one, though, did Shanahan say he hopes not to lose for 2022?
Shanahan Hopes to Keep Rising Assistant one More Season
Speaking with the Bay Area media on Monday, January 10, Shanahan is hopeful that his top defensive play-caller can stick around for one more season.
“I don’t want to lose him yet,” Shanahan said via Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area. “So hopefully for my sake and the Niners’ sake they let him get a few more years here but I know he’s ready and I feel the same way about Mike.”
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If Shanahan does lose Ryans, it’ll be the second straight offseason Shanahan loses his defensive coordinator to a head coaching job, as Robert Saleh went on to take the head coaching reins with the New York Jets one year ago.
Here’s a list of what Ryans has been able to accomplish in his first season running the 49ers defense:
Points lowered: During the 49ers’ 2-4 start, the defense had four games when they allowed 28 points or more and were allowing an average of 24.83 points per game. But as the 49ers went 8-3 the rest of the way, the defense began to put a cap on opposing scoring — witnessing just two games of surrendering 30 points or more. Ryans and his defense went on to allow 19.6 points per game the rest of the way.
Line rush comes alive: Of the 48 team sacks from the ‘Niners, the top seven pass rushers came from the trenches. Nick Bosa put together a career-best 15.5 sacks in an NFL Comeback Player of the Year type season following his ACL tear of 2020. Outside of Bosa, Arik Armstead and Arden Key also put together significant campaigns with six sacks and 6.5 sacks, respectively, under Ryans’ watch. The latter defender came alive since Week 9 and ended up with a career-best mark in single season sacks.
Key was also instrumental in wrecking the trenches in the 49ers’ 27-24 comeback win in overtime against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, January 9.
Meanwhile, the captain Armstead slid over to the “B” gap defender of the 49ers’ front line — and still gave offensive linemen fits especially against the Rams.
Armstead also had this critical play that helped force the extra quarter.
Pass defense thrives despite injuries: The 49ers dealt with a myriad of injuries and, before the Rams game, nearly the entire cornerback group was away from practice due to getting on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Yet, the 49ers still allowed the sixth-fewest aerial yards in the league at 206.5 at season’s end. And, a new beloved 49er among S.F. fans emerged in the secondary in rookie Ambry Thomas.
Is Ryans Head Coach Material Already?
While Shanahan is hopeful Ryans doesn’t hear from NFL teams seeking a head coach (his name isn’t on the nfl.com tracker for head coaching interviews as of Tuesday afternoon), is the 37-year-old Ryans already capable of handling an NFL team on his own?
“I’ve seen head coaching qualities out of ‘Meco when he was a player, when he was quality control, when he was a linebacker coach and now as a coordinator,” Shanahan said. “He’s always had those qualities. It’s just about him getting the reps and getting the experience.”
Could the time be now, even though Shanahan clearly doesn’t want him to drift off yet?
“It’s a matter of time with him and he’s already got enough so if a team comes calling they will get a hell of a one,” Shanahan said.