Texans hire 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans as head coach

HOUSTON — The Texans have hired San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach, the team announced Tuesday.

The deal is for six years, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Ryans will be officially unveiled Thursday as the franchise’s sixth full-time manager. The Texans, meanwhile, became the first team in NFL history to hire three straight black coaches.

Ryans had his first interview with the Texans on Jan. 20 and met with the franchise again on Tuesday. Other NFL teams who have asked permission to speak to the Ryans about head coaching positions have included the Broncos, Panthers and Colts.

“DeMeco is everything we’re looking for in a leader and coach for our organization for so many reasons,” Texas owner Cal McNair said in a statement. “He has a proven track record of developing quality players and has consistently renewed his defensive scheme over the past six seasons at San Francisco.

“We started this process with the goal of finding someone that our fans and our city could be proud of, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. While we’ve had a lot of incredible feedback and support for DeMeco from various people, it was our conversations with him and his vision for our football team that made him the right coach to guide us as our organization evolved.”

Ryans’ hiring ends a three-week search since the Texans fired Lovie Smith on Jan. 8. Ryans, a former Texan standout linebacker, will become Houston’s fourth coach in four years after Smith and David Culley were fired after one season each.

Former coach and general manager Bill O’Brien was sacked after starting the 2020 season going 4-0. O’Brien led the Texans for six full seasons prior to that, and his 52-48 record (.520) leaves him as the only Texans coach over .500.

The franchise hired Nick Caserio as GM in 2021. Caserio hired Culley (4-13) in 2021 and promoted Smith (3-13-1) from defensive coordinator in 2022.

Now Caserio has hired Ryans, who took over the 49ers’ defensive unit in 2021.

“DeMeco is a proven coach with a track record who has an innate ability to lead people,” Caserio said in a statement. “…We are working to build a sustainable program that will have long-term success, and DeMeco is the coach we believe is best suited to help us achieve our goals. We know the importance of getting results now and we have a lot of work to do but I look forward to working with DeMeco to build our football team together.”

In its freshman season, the 49ers had the third fewest yards per game (310), and in 2022, San Francisco had the lowest points (16.8) and yards (300.6) allowed per game. The Ryans unit also ate the second most takeaway (30).

Ryans’ defense helped lift the 49ers to a 13-4 record in the regular season before losing 31-7 to the No. 2 seed Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.

Before becoming a coach, Ryans had a 10-year career with the Texans and Eagles. A second-round pick by the Texans from Alabama in 2006, he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year after finishing second in league tackles (156). His 126 solo tackles were the second most for a rookie in NFL history.

The following season, Ryans received second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. The two-time Pro Bowler played for the Texans for six seasons and is currently the franchise’s top tackler (479).

“Being the head coach of the Houston Texans is my dream job and my family is thrilled to be back in H-Town,” Ryans said in a statement. “I have been associated with football my entire life and have always had a natural ability to lead others. I know what it takes to win and be successful in this league, both as a player and as a coach.

“We will build a program filled with players who have a special work ethic and a relentless mindset. I understand the responsibility I have to this organization and to the Houston fans to build a winner and I can’t wait to get to work.”

Ryans, 38, has spent the last six years as a coach; His first role was as a defensive quality control coach for the 49ers in 2017 under coach Kyle Shanahan. In 2018, he was named inside linebackers coach and defensive coordinator when Robert Saleh left the New York Jets in 2021 to become head coach.

“First, I want to thank the San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch for six incredible seasons of growth as a coach and as a man,” Ryans said. “I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished together and I will always cherish the relationships I’ve built there.”

One of the Ryans’ biggest tasks will be fixing the league’s worst rush defense, which allowed 170.2 yards per game. No team has conceded more than 170 rushing yards since the 0-16 Lions (172.1) in 2008. The Texans have also ranked 27th in points per game allowed for three consecutive seasons.

Pass defense was a bright spot for a team that conceded third in yards per game (379.5). The Texans ranked 10th in the league in passing yards per game (209.3) and had more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15).

The team’s 16 interceptions ranked fourth, and the 15 touchdowns allowed were the fewest.

In addition to fixing the defense, Ryans needs to fix the Texans’ offensive problems and find an answer at the quarterback.

The unit averaged 17 points (30th), and the Texans’ 19 interceptions were the second most. Opening day starting quarterback Davis Mills had 15 of them in 15 games and was level on points for the league-high, and Kyle Allen, who started when Mills was on the bench, threw the other four in two games.

The Texans have two first-round draft picks (No. 2 and No. 12 overall) in the 2023 NFL draft and could use one of them for a quarterback. You could also approach the position through trade or free agency. The NFL told teams Monday that the salary cap for the 2023 league year will increase to $224.8 million. It is estimated that the Texans have over $40 million in cap space.

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/35564183/sources-texans-hire-49ers-dc-demeco-ryans-head-coach Texans hire 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans as head coach

Emma Bowman

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