San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will surprisingly be staying put in the Bay Area after the Cleveland Browns made an unexpected coaching hire.
What a season it’s been for San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
Despite entering the year on the proverbial hot seat, the energetic coach managed to transform the 49ers’ defense and find himself at the center of head coach discussions by the end of the season.
But fortunately for the 49ers, it appears as though he’ll be staying put in San Francisco for at least another year.
After a disastrous 2018 season, Saleh found himself under plenty of criticism for the 49ers’ defensive woes. But after adding an abundance of Pro Bowl talent in the offseason, the 49ers defense developed into perhaps the best unit in the league.
Players like Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Kwon Alexander were added while the likes of Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward, and Emmanuel Moseley all broke out with career years. They all joined stud players like DeForest Buckner, Richard Sherman, and Fred Warner who already led the team’s defense.
But make no mistake about it, the 49ers’ defensive metamorphosis wasn’t solely a result of a change in personnel.
Saleh introduced the new Wide-9 scheme in 2020 which allowed the 49ers pass rush to truly shine. Armstead was allowed to play on the interior while still lining up against offensive tackles.
And for a player who had struggled to find a defined role before this season, it was a perfect match.
The revived pass rush allowed the 49ers to succeed on all three levels with the secondary breaking out as a result of the increased pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
It was true defensive synergy.
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On top of that, his seemingly limitless energy and boisterous personality proved infectious and the players were able to feed off his enthusiasm. He was a leader of men and a fiery jolt of zest for the entire team to feed off of.
It was these reasons that transformed a lame-duck defensive coordinator into a bonafide head coaching candidate in just one season. But despite interest from the Cleveland Browns, Saleh was ultimately not given a head coach position.
The Browns instead decided to hire Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as their new head coach — a curious decision given what had happened just days earlier in the Divisional Round.
Saleh seemed to make his case trouncing Stefanski’s offense and out-coaching his adversary. Nonetheless, the Browns decided that they had their guy and the 49ers should be counting their blessings that they did.
Robert Saleh will be the 49ers defensive coordinator at least through 2020, but expect to hear his name resurface once the coaching carousel comes around again next season.
For now, however, 49ers fans could look forward to more of the same from their passionate defensive coordinator.