Broncos head coaching candidate, 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans gets endorsement


San Francisco has been a hub for NFL coaches and front-office promotions in recent years, but Kyle Shanahan is hoping his latest rising star hits a career plateau again this winter.

The 49ers head coach lightheartedly asked the forgiveness of his defensive coordinator’s wife on Wednesday before saying he hoped DeMeco Ryans was back on his staff for another year in 2023.

“I hope he’s not a head coach next year,” Shanahan said with a smile, “But if he is, he more than deserves it.”

What makes Shanahan so sure?

“It starts as a man. He’s the ideal leader, whatever he does,” Shanahan said of the 38-year-old Ryans, who played linebacker in the league until 2015 and has been on the 49ers staff since 2017. “He was that way when he came into Houston as a rookie linebacker. He took over that defense right away. You could tell who was in charge when he was a 21-year-old. He came in here as a quality control and within like six months we moved him to linebacker coach.

“He’s always been that guy. And then just watching him over these two years, what he took in his years learning to get there, how much better he runs the system and then he adjusts every week. He sees how to play an offense, he pays attention to offense and defense.

“(I) thought he was ready last year to be a head coach.”

Ryans decided he wasn’t ready, pulling his name out of the running for the Minnesota job before a second-round interview to return to San Francisco for a second season as a defensive coordinator.

His time could be now – or, more accurately, whenever the 49ers’ postseason run ends.

Houston, where he made first-team All-Pro and spent six seasons, and the Broncos have interviewed him once and they will be allowed to do so again after the NFC Championship Game this weekend if they want to or feel the need to.

The Texans have lined up several other second-round interviews, including Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero and New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka on Wednesday.

Denver, meanwhile, has made no known second-round interview requests so far. What work Broncos CEO Greg Penner and company have done the first part of this week has taken place behind the scenes rather than by bringing candidates to Denver.

Other teams have proceeded differently, and several of the Broncos’ first wave of interviewees have progressed to second interviews with other teams looking for coaches. In addition to Houston, Evero has a second interview scheduled with Indianapolis. So, too, do Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. Quinn also reportedly met with Arizona a second time on Tuesday.

Former New Orleans head coach Sean Payton? He met with Carolina on Monday and has a meeting with the Cardinals slated for Thursday after first-round chats with Denver and Houston last week, but a second interview with the Broncos – discussed earlier in the week, sources said – has so far not materialized.

Until the five teams that have openings start to drop the dominoes, Denver could still decide to bring in Quinn or Payton or former Stanford head coach David Shaw for interviews this week. Next week, they can do the same with Ryans if they still have an opening.

The market has developed slower this year than last. The NFL tweaked its timeline and what it allowed between the regular season and wild-card round in an effort to slow teams down, but there are also fewer teams hiring head coaches this year than last year’s nine-team bonanza.

A year ago, Denver brought Nathaniel Hackett to Denver on a second-round interview the Tuesday of conference championship week and had him locked up by Thursday. He was the first coach to secure a job in the cycle and Chicago hired Matt Eberflus later the same day.


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