The San Francisco 49ers quietly made a big hire for their defensive coaching staff this offseason when they brought in former NFL linebacker DeMeco Ryans. He is serving as the defensive quality control coach, which involves a lot of grunt work in getting information together for the position coaches and defensive coordinator.
Ryans retired from the NFL after the 2015 season, and after sitting out 2016, he joined the 49ers. He is a first-time assistant, but he has a chance to make a significant impact. Linebackers coach Johnny Holland chatted with the media last week, and got several questions about new 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster.
While the rookie cannot take part in full drills due to his shoulder rehab, he is able to learn plenty by following around the linebackers and the coaching staff. Holland said that Ryans is serving in a bit of a mentor role to Foster.
“[Ryans is] a guy that has great character. Great football player,” Holland said. “(He's) a guy Reuben is going to have his ears wide open listening to. DeMeco just recently left the game, and this is not new to him. So, Reuben sits by him every day and asks him questions.”
There is no question about Foster’s talent. The big question right now is about his health. If he is healthy, he stands a strong chance of being a significant impact player. But add in working with a great NFL player like DeMeco Ryans is all the more impressive. He can learn a lot from him, but going out of his way to ask Ryans questions reflects well on Foster’s drive to be great. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have talked about how much they like Foster and his “football character,” and this kind of thing goes to that.