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49ers to hire Robert Saleh as defensive coordinator

Feb 13, 2017 at 12:42 PM


The San Francisco 49ers will name Robert Saleh as the defensive coordinator for the 2017 season, per Adam Caplan of ESPN. Saleh was among two candidates interviewed on Friday for the vacant position on head coach Kyle Shanahan's staff. The other was Atlanta Falcons defensive passing game coordinator Jerome Henderson, who worked on the same staff with Shanahan in 2016.


Saleh's NFL coaching career kicked off in 2005 as an intern working with the Houston Texans defense. In 2006, he was hired as a defensive quality control coach for the Texans and then promoted to assistant linebackers coach in 2009. In 2011, Saleh joined the Seattle Seahawks as their defensive quality control coach, where he remained for three seasons. He was part of their 2013 championship season when they defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Saleh had been the linebackers coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2014 and was reportedly set to join the Los Angeles Chargers for the 2017 season within the same role.


With his team participating in Super Bowl LI, Shanahan, who was then the offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons, was the last new head coach to be hired this offseason. Every other new head coach has had a head start on assembling their staffs, leaving Shanahan at a disadvantage. However, Shanahan has a six-year deal with the 49ers, so it is very likely that the coaching staff he builds for 2017 may not resemble the staff in 2018.

RELATED Tracker: Kyle Shanahan's 49ers Coaching Staff

It is entirely possible, as some within the media have speculated, that Saleh might serve as a placeholder within Shanahan's staff until next season when a higher profile target can be acquired. It was reported that the team was interested in former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, now with the Chicago Bears. It was also reported that Fangio would have liked to have returned to the 49ers. However, he is still under contract with Chicago so the team will have to wait until next offseason to make a run at acquiring him.

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 were 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.

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