While hiring offensive geniuses seems to be the new wave in the NFL, finding a coach that could teach players, relate to them, and have his team prepared is a more logical approach than searching for “the next McVay.” Saleh’s ties to Michigan are strong. He was born and raised in Dearborn, Michigan, which is two miles from the Lions facility. Saleh grew up a Lions fan who idolized Barry Sanders. Saleh’s family still lives in Dearborn, and even played at Northern Michigan in college and coached at Michigan State.
Losing Saleh to Detriot would be the worst-case scenario for the 49ers. The Lions fired their general manager Bob Quinn. They’ll also need someone to call the offense. Saleh could pluck Adam Peters, the current Vice President of Personnel for the Niners, to be his GM in Detroit along with Mike McDaniel. The latter has been the genius behind the 49ers running game as offensive coordinator. That’d give the Lions a powerful combo that would be difficult to top.
One of Matt Patricia’s biggest downfalls was relating to the players. He was a robot that could not connect to human beings. Many of his former players came out in support of Detriot firing Patricia on Saturday. It was ugly. Saleh is the opposite, and you see it every time he speaks to the media.
On Wednesday, his Saleh’s media availability, one of the reporters was holding their baby on the Zoom call. The in-your-face, high-energy Saleh, who is known as a “football guy” and can be seen running stairs before each game, turned into a complete softy. He related that situation to his at home, as Saleh currently has six kids ranging from a year and a half to ten years old.
Saleh is personable. That’ll help in interviews. He’s also quite good at his job. We’ve seen Saleh adjust his entire philosophy over the past couple of seasons. In 2018, the 49ers were a predominant Cover-3 defense. In 2019, they shifted to more Cover-4/7 principles that helped the defense avoid giving up the big play. This season, as there has been a lack of pass rush, Saleh has gotten creative and is blitzing 14% more to generate pressure. The gameplans have been great. The execution has not.
The defense has also been put in some bad situations, which will affect your volume stats like points per game, but San Francisco remains in the upper half of the league in every defensive stat that holds any weight. That, and his close to Michigan, would make for a great hire in Detroit. Appreciate Saleh while he’s still around.