But, head coach Kyle Shanahan is doing what he can to prevent Saleh from taking too many of his staff with him to his next landing spot.
“I keep telling him he’s not allowed to take anyone,” Shanahan said jokingly, 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 leaving, but just this past offseason the league lifted that rule, which means Saleh is free to go along with anyone else. Shanahan, who went through the same process back in 2017 when he was hired by San Francisco after nine seasons as an offensive coordinator, surely understands that he may have some additional holes to fill on his staff 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.”
Michigan Fans Asking Detroit to Hire Saleh
After the Detroit Lions let go of Matt Patricia in the middle of a third straight disappointing season, a group of Michigan legislators sent Detroit’s owner Sheila Ford Hamp a letter suggesting the team hire Saleh.
“We understand the difficulty of these upcoming decisions,” the letter reads, via NBC Sports. “As passionate and loyal Lions fans, we are asking you to hire Robert Saleh as the head coach of our team. He is the best candidate for the job and measures as such across every metric. A head coach like Robert can bring tremendous energy and heart to the franchise and would help us reach peaks that have seemed unobtainable for so long. We have an exceptional opportunity here and we trust you to make the best decision.
“To turn the corner and become a winning franchise, these next hiring decisions are critical. We hope that you will consider Robert Saleh as the head coach, not only for us, but for everyone across the loyal fanbase of our beloved Detroit Lions.”
Saleh is a native of Dearborn, Michigan, having spent his entire childhood and college football career there at Northern Michigan. The 41-year-old got his coaching start in the state with stints at Michigan State — where his family football roots also run deep — and Central Michigan as a defensive assistant from 2002-04.
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Could Saleh Head Back to Houston?
Another team reportedly eyeing Saleh are the Houston Texans, who are currently led by 73-year-old interim head coach Romeo Crennel after the dismissal of Bill O’Brien in early October.
Saleh previously coached for the Texans in 2005 as a defensive intern, before moving up to a defensive quality control coach and then assistant linebackers coach in 2009-10.
The Niners might not be headed to the Super Bowl again this year, but even with an injury-plagued roster and COVID-19 issues, the defensive unit ranks fifth in total defense (316.1 yards allowed per game) through Week 14. Under Saleh, the 49ers have finished 24th, 13th and second overall in total defense over three seasons.
Saleh has managed to work around significant injuries to DE Nick Bosa (lost for the season after Week 2 ACL tear) and CB Richard Sherman (missed 10 weeks after Week 1 calf strain). Even without some of his top playmakers, he’s managed to take down the Los Angeles Rams in their past four meetings.
Sherman, one of the more outspoken players across the league, is for Saleh getting a head coaching job elsewhere and also 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.”
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