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49ers head coach candidates: Teryl Austin scouting report from Pride of Detroit

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The San Francisco 49ers are looking to interview Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. We take a look at his strengths and weaknesses courtesy of Pride of Detroit.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin informed the media on Thursday that the San Francisco 49ers asked for permission to interview him after this weekend's wild card games. The 49ers can interview him next week whether the Lions win or lose.

Austin is wrapping up his first year as Lions DC, and he has put together one of the better defenses in the league. I spoke with our Lions blog, Pride of Detroit, to get an idea of what Austin brings to the table. They provided a look at his strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths: In his first year as defensive coordinator, Austin has transformed the Lions defense into one of the best units in the NFL. Despite having mainly the same players as Jim Schwartz a year ago, the Lions have become the top run defense by a wide margin, and their secondary has improved a great deal. I suppose this shouldn't be a huge surprise considering Austin was previously the secondary coach for the Seahawks, Cardinals and Ravens, and he actually went to a Super Bowl with all three of those teams.

The other big strength that I've noticed is Austin's ability to cope with injuries. The Lions lost their top two nickelbacks and their starting middle linebacker early in the season, yet there was never any real drop-off with the defense. I suppose that speaks to Austin's ability to create excellent game plans that can function even with backups playing at certain positions.

Weaknesses: Considering this is his first year in Detroit, it's tough to find many consistent patterns of weakness from Austin specifically. I suppose one thing that has jumped out is the defense's propensity for getting off to slow starts in road games against good teams, but that's really been a team-wide problem rather than something that only happens to the defense.