Kyle Shanahan hired Jacksonville Jaguar linebacker coach Robert Saleh to become their defensive coordinator, and his history as presented to most of us has been his connection to the Seattle Seahawks. Saleh worked on Pete Carroll’s coaching staff, and later Gus Bradley’s, where he gained insight into that style of defense.
However, as with anybody, there is plenty more to learn, and MMQB columnist Robert Klemko has a fantastic read on the 49ers DC. Saleh was born in Dearborn, Michigan, the son of a Lebanese-born mother, and an American-born Lebanese father who spent some of his childhood in Lebanon). He is believed to be the first Arab-American NFL coordinator, but his story goes well beyond that.
Saleh’s older brother was in the South Tower on 9/11 and just barely escaped. At the time, Saleh was just starting a post-college career in banking. Shortly after, he realized life is too short and wanted to get back into football. He had been an all-conference tight end in Division II, but suffered a major knee injury as a UDFA with the Chicago Bears.
Saleh eventually got into coaching as a grad assistant, and then an opportunity with the Houston Texans gave him his big break as a quality control coordinator. He worked his way up from there and Klemko had a chance to speak with several of his former bosses.
The articles offers a mix of insight about his coaching life and also his personal life. Klemko wrote that Saleh was a bit hesitant to discuss it because of concerns it would be interpreted as a political statement. He offered up some thoughts about the treatment of Arab-Americans, but keeps things pretty low key.
I can’t recommend this article enough. Give it a read when you get a minute.