There are currently four openings, or teams that finished the season with interim coaches: The Broncos, Colts, Texans, and Panthers. There are sure to be more head coaching vacancies, perhaps with two of those coming in the NFC West, as the Cardinals just fired Kliff Kingsbury.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Broncos have requested to interview 49ers’ defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.
We mentioned Sunday that former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is another candidate for Denver. If you’re DeMeco, are you sure the Broncos are a job that you want? This is a team with $14 million in cap space. The wide receiver group proved to be overrated, the offensive line is a mess, and the quarterback looked like a shell of himself this season.
The selling point is allegedly on defense. From Week 10 on, Denver finished 19th in defensive DVOA. Don’t get me wrong, Patrick Surtain is a star, and Justin Simmons is a playmaker, but do you want to build around Randy Gregory as your best player in the front seven? Denver gave up at least 21 points in six of their final nine games, and the three games they didn’t came against backup quarterbacks or bottom-5 offenses.
Sure, there are ways to get out of Russell Wilson’s contract and create cap space, but going through a rebuild in a division where Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert exist, not to mention the strength at quarterback from the other playoff teams in the conference should make it an easy pass for a first-time head coach.
That’s not the only job Ryans will be linked to, and this won’t be the last time he’ll have an interview request. But Ryans won’t be interviewing with the Texans, according to Aaron Wilson:
Former Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans, the San Francisco 49ers’ highly-rated defensive coordinator, is not expected to pursue the job, according to sources. Ryans once filed a lawsuit against the Texans and the NFL seeking damages and alleging issues with the field surface’s design and construction after suffering a torn Achilles at NRG Stadium on Nov. 2, 2014. Ryans is expected to be picky as he pursues head-coaching opportunities and isn’t in a rush to leave the 49ers’ high-caliber defense.
Could Ryans continue to play the waiting game for the perfect opportunity to open up? There isn’t a soul in the 49ers organization that wouldn’t welcome Ryans back with open arms.