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Robert Saleh understands the criticism comes with the job, is focusing on what he can control

The 49ers defensive coordinator has the confidence of his coach and his defensive leader. Will that be enough if the unit continues to struggle?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Anytime a team is not competing for a playoff spot, or in some cases, for a high seed in the playoffs, criticism will arise for one or more coaches. It might be the head coach, but oftentimes either the offensive or defensive coordinator gets to face vocal criticism as a season progresses.

Any criticism about the San Francisco 49ers is going to involve one or more of general manager John Lynch, head coach/offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

For the time being, Saleh is bearing the brunt of the criticism. Lynch gets some criticism for some shaky decisions, but as the season progresses and the defense remains woefully inconsistent, Saleh is on the receiving end of critiques from fans and media.

Saleh has gotten a vote of confidence from both Shanahan and cornerback Sherman, but the 49ers defensive coordinator knows criticism comes with the territory. He met with local media on Thursday and was pretty blunt about the life of an assistant coach.

“No. In our profession, there’s two types of coaches. There’s those who have been fired and there’s those who are about to get fired. So, you just put that to the back burner. We get it. It goes with the territory. I have tremendous confidence in what we teach and how we go about our business. I’ve got tremendous confidence in the players. I’ve got tremendous confidence in the assistant coaches.”

Social media, and the fan base in general, remain abuzz about the defensive situation. Richard Sherman and Kyle Shanahan have defended the scheme as being sound, with Sherman repeatedly saying the players have to improve their execution. Saleh is trying to tune out the noise, offering up the usual cliche of “focus on what you control, not what you can’t control.”

“[I]f you allow yourself to get in a world of things you have zero control over, which is people talking, it just takes away from your ability to do your best at any moment. Social media, I don’t do it, I don’t have it. To be honest with you, it’s a very uncontrollable aspect of life. The more you focus on things you have no control over, the less you can focus on things you do have control over. To make a long answer short, I don’t get involved in it.”

He said the coaches and players are working hard, and he thinks the unit is coming together. He talked about seeing, “a block of plays where those guys are executing and performing at a very high level and they look unbelievable.” Of course, as he noted a couple times, when they struggle to execute, “it looks horrendous.”

The 49ers have ten games remaining, starting with a tough one against a dynamic Los Angeles Rams offense. It could get worse before it gets better, but for the time being, Saleh has the confidence of his head coach and his defensive leader. Will the group be able to turn things around, or will Saleh be looking for a new job this offseason?

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