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3 Most Likely Replacements for Robert Saleh as San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator

Jason Schandl
The most likely replacements for San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
The most likely replacements for San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. / Michael Zagaris/Getty Images
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San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is one of the hottest head coaching candidates in the NFL heading into the offseason. He's even the favorite to enter next season as the Detroit Lions head coach according to NFL futures odds from FanDuel Sportsbook.

That means that Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers will need a new DC in 2021. Here are the most likely candidates to replace Saleh.

1. Dan Quinn

Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn would be a great fit as the San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator.
Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn would be a great fit as the San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator. / Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Dan Quinn's time as the Atlanta Falcons' head coach didn't end well, but he still had a solid run, winning double-digit games twice in his five full seasons, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2016. Before taking that job he was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks teams that made back-to-back Super Bowls in 2013 and 2014. His defense allowed both the fewest yards and points in the NFL in both of those seasons. A return to a coordinator job would make a ton of sense for Quinn. The move would reunite him with Kyle Shanahan, who helped get Quinn to the 2016 Super Bowl as the Falcons' OC.

2. DeMeco Ryans, Inside LB Coach, San Francisco 49ers

DeMeco Ryans could be promoted to defensive coordinator to replace Robert Saleh.
DeMeco Ryans could be promoted to defensive coordinator to replace Robert Saleh. / Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

If the San Francisco 49ers want to stay in-house with their new DC, DeMeco Ryans would be an interesting fit. The 2007 All-Pro has been an NFL coach since 2017, when he signed on as a defensive quality control coach for the Niners. He was promoted to inside linebackers coach in 2018, working with Saleh to coach one of the league's best defenses. Seeing so much success on that side of the ball, the organization may opt to favor continuity and promote Ryans to keep the same system in place. Under Ryans' watch, Fred Warner has developed into one of the best LBs in the NFL, and Dre Greenlaw has become a rock-solid starter as well.

3. Vic Fangio, Head Coach, Denver Broncos

If the Denver Broncos fire Vic Fangio, he could be a great fit in San Francisco as a replacement for Robert Saleh.
If the Denver Broncos fire Vic Fangio, he could be a great fit in San Francisco as a replacement for Robert Saleh. / Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Vic Fangio's future as the Denver Broncos' head coach is far from guaranteed, as the team has stumbled into double-digit losses again in 2020. The 49ers already expressed interest in bringing in Fangio as their defensive coordinator when he was still with the Chicago Bears in 2018, and the hiring would make a ton of sense. His tenure as a head coach may not inspire much confidence, but Fangio has 19 years of experience as a DC at the NFL level, and he boasted a top-10 scoring defense eight times (with with three different teams) during that time.


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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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