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Kyle Shanahan: Robert Saleh will be back as defensive coordinator in 2018

The 49ers defense has shown notable improvement, so it is only fitting that the defensive coordinator gets another crack at it.

I don’t know if this should qualify as big news, although some might see it that way. But in case you were wondering, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will be back in the same role in 2018.

During the season, head coach Kyle Shanahan has done a weekly interview with Matt Maiocco. In the most recent edition, Maiocco asked Shanahan about the future of Saleh. When Shanahan was putting his coaching staff together earlier this year, he wanted to talk to Vic Fangio, and he approached Gus Bradley about the defensive coordinator job. The Bears would not let him interview Fangio, and Bradley took the DC role with the Los Angeles Chargers.

But Shanahan has been plenty pleased with Saleh.

“Yea, there’s no doubt about that. Robert’s been great. I think he’s gotten better throughout the year, and I think he’ll be even better next year. Robert’s got a great future ahead of him, and I feel very fortunate that he’s coordinator for the Niners.”

The 49ers defense has improved in a variety of statistical categories. There is a lot of room for further improvement, but Shanahan is impressed with what Saleh has done amidst all the injuries.

“Yea, I think Robert’s done a great job. His first year as a coordinator — I know he’s waited for this time for a while. He’s been everything I hope for, and more. He’s very smart with how he’s ran our scheme, I’ve been excited with our scheme. He’s really worked through a lot of things this year — having to move people around throughout the injuries we’ve had, trying to find guys in the best spots — and I think it’s not a coincidence the last month or so, we’ve had the most consistent play of the same people out there. If you look through our first ten weeks and stuff, it seemed like, especially defensively, a new lineup every week. And the more guys can play together, the more you can run the same coverages, the same fronts, the same blitzes week in and week out. That’s when you start improving.”

This coming year is what will be the real test of Saleh as a DC. The team is likely to invest cap space and draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. A further talent infusion means expectations will be that much higher in 2018 — for the unit and for Saleh.