Replacing DeMeco Ryans may be the hardest and most important thing the 49ers will do this offseason. Their defensive coordinator for the past two years has taken a job as head coach of the Houston Texans, leaving a void atop San Francisco’s No. 1 defense.
While the 49ers defensive group is very talented, Ryans’ schematic brilliance and leadership have made him a quick rise through the NFL coaching ranks. They also made him perhaps the best defensive coordinator in the NFL in his first year on the job.
It’s very likely that the 49ers defense will spearhead the team again in 2023, so finding a good defensive coordinator will be critical to their continued success. They’ve already requested a couple of interviews, but a handful of other at least semi-intriguing names persist:
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The 49ers are requesting an interview with the veteran coach, who oversaw the Panthers’ late-season playoff push as interim head coach. He has been in the NFL since 2006 and is one of the very few available people who might be able to replace the Ryans as the leader of a talented San Francisco defense.
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There are conflicting reports on Fangio’s availability, but the former 49ers DC would make a lot of sense if Shanahan wanted to go a more experienced route. The big question here is whether the 49ers would be willing to switch their playbook to the 3-4 formation that Fangio typically fields.
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Harris is another person the 49ers have requested an interview with. He falls into the mold of Robert Saleh or Ryans in that he has yet to have any experience as a coordinator. He’s had two runs so far for the 49ers, so it would make sense if they try to go down that road again.
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Evero could very well land a head coaching job this cycle. If not, he’s probably the best defensive coordinator available after helping build a strong Broncos defense in his first year as coordinator in 2022.
The story continues
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There is no real indication that the 49ers are interested in making Kocurek their DC, nor is there any indication that he is interested in a promotion. However, he was sensational as San Francisco’s defensive line coach and his ability to lead could make him a good candidate for the lead role.
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It doesn’t look like the 49ers are internally looking for a DC, but Undlin has experience. The problem is that his experience was rather disastrous. Undlin has been the defensive passing game specialist for the 49ers as of 2021 and became their secondary coach in 2022. While that has been going strong, his only stint as defensive coordinator came with the Lions in 2020, where they ranked bottom in points and yards. It’s hard to imagine that it would be more of a last resort option.
The story originally appeared on Niners Wire