Rick Wilson-Jacksonville Jaguars

Rick Wilson-Jacksonville Jaguars



While it has not been officially announced by the San Francisco 49ers, the team reportedly hired former Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers coach Robert Saleh earlier this week to be the defensive coordinator. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee joined Brian Peacock, an analyst for Pro Football Focus, on his podcast on Thursday and discussed the hire.

Barrows was asked if he was surprised that the 49ers hired yet another first-time defensive coordinator. "Well, yeah, I am," Barrows said. "That's what happens when you're hiring in mid-February I think. I mean, all the big names are gone. They wanted to hire Vic Fangio. They wanted to hire Gus Bradley. Those are the ones that we know about. You wonder if they went after other guys that just didn't want to join this team at that point.

"So Saleh's going to be the guy and my whole curiosity is about Fangio. The reason he's not here now is because he's under contract with the Bears. He's not under contract with the Bears next year so I wonder if there's some sort of under the table secret handshake deal going on where Fangio comes in next year and Saleh is a placeholder. I wonder if Saleh knows about it -- if that's the case. I also wonder why it's taken so long for him to sign his contract. Apparently, this deal has been done for a week at least. He's in the building but there still isn't an official contract made. That's still being worked out.

"It just seems like it's more complicated than it should be which tells me that there may be something going on behind the scenes."

You can listen to the entire interview via audioBoom.

Barrows isn't the only beat writer who has considered the possible 49ers-Fangio future connection. Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area has also speculated that Saleh might serve as a placeholder within Shanahan's staff. It was also reported that Fangio would have liked to have returned to the 49ers.

Fangio served as the 49ers' defensive coordinator for four seasons under head coach Jim Harbaugh from 2011 until 2014. After Harbaugh and the 49ers parted ways, Fangio left for Chicago. The 49ers defense never ranked worse than fifth in the league under Fangio. The Bears defense has ranked 14th and 15th in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Fangio was one of two internal coaches who was interviewed for the head coaching job following the 2014 season. The job ultimately went to the other internal candidate, Jim Tomsula, who worked under Fangio as the defensive line coach.