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Will Demeco Ryans be an NFL head coach in 2023?

We discuss whether an NFL team will hire 49ers defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans and which opening fits him best.

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have had a great season and are one of the favorites for the Super Bowl. Defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans has played a major role in that as they have the best defense in the NFL. It has been that way since he took over in 2021. Below we’ll take a look at whether or not he will get a chance as a head coach next season.

Who is 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans

Ryans was a second round pick from Alabama in the 2006 NFL Draft. He played in the NFL for 10 seasons and had a great career. He won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006, was a First Team All-Pro in 2007, and made the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2009. A little over a year after retiring, Ryans was hired by the 49ers as the defensive quality control coach. The next year after that, they promoted him to inside linebackers coach.

The following season, after Robert Sales took the head coaching job with the Jets, Ryans was promoted to defensive coordinator for the 49ers. After 2021, he landed a head coaching interview with the Minnesota Vikings, but declined a second interview choosing to stay with the 49ers. His defense has been stellar once again this season and their success could play a big role in him getting a head coaching job this offseason.

Why would he make a good head coach?

Everything Ryans has shown as a defensive coordinator looks like he will be a successful NFL head coach. While his defense has had talent, he has gotten everything out of his players. He’s had great schemes and hasn’t struggled with adjustments. His players seem to enjoy being around him and he’s always energized on the sideline. He’d be great taking over in a situation where they want to change the culture.

I would expect him to be the top option this offseason and many teams looking for a coach to do whatever they can to add him as their head coach. Many weren't expecting him to have as much success as Saleh did, but he did a great job filling his shoes. Saleh has had success in New York, and I would expect Ryans to have a bit of the same.

Which teams are interviewing him?

Denver Broncos

Update 1/12- Ryans will officially interview with the Broncos in Los Angeles next Tuesday. This will come two days after the 49ers’ Wild Card round matchup against the Seahawks and his ability to potentially hit the ground running with the job obviously hinges on how far the Niners make it un the postseason.

Ryans’ ability to maintain one of the best defenses in the league despite a slew of injuries makes him a great candidate for the Broncos. With the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Davante Adams in the AFC West, going with a defensive guy would be a wise move. The only question is the offensive coordinator and how they would help mitigate the decline of quarterback Russell Wilson.

The Broncos have requested permission to interview Ryans as one of their top candidates. Considering how successful the 49ers pass rush has been under Ryans’ leadership, pairing him with an elite defender like Bradley Chubb would be a wise move.

Houston Texans

The Texans have also requested permission to interview Ryans and it would be a homecoming for Ryans as earned All-Pro status with the franchise in 2007. However, it has been reported that Ryans will not pursue the job given the dysfunction of the franchise and the fact that he once filed a lawsuit against them.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers finished the season strong, but need to build talent on both sides of the ball. They have the ninth overall pick in the draft and nobody would be surprised if they drafted a quarterback. Ryans would want to bring in a strong OC option if he was hired, but the Panthers’ issues on both sides of the ball mean going for a defensive- vs. offensive-minded head coach shouldn’t make a huge difference.

Arizona Cardinals

The 49ers confirmed Ryans received an interview request from the Cardinals. Arizona had a disaster of a season and a massive regression on offense. Ryans would help upgrade their defense and one of Arizona’s most important questions would likely be who Ryans would look to bring in as offensive coordinator and QB coach for working with Kyler Murray.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts submitted a request to interview Ryans on Monday, January 16. Ryans continues to employ a stout defensive front as the 49ers make their way through the NFC playoffs. He has been a popular choice for interviews, and the Colts' defense and the overall team could benefit from his creativity and play calling. He would likely be paired with a new quarterback to enter into a new era in Indy.