On the morning of Super Bowl 51, Robert Saleh's name emerged as a candidate for the San Francisco 49ers' vacant defensive coordinator job. Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who was busy preparing to face the New England Patriots, would not be officially hired as the team's new head coach until the next day.

A week after the 49ers hired Shanahan, it was revealed that Saleh would be the team's defensive coordinator. Once hired, many questioned whether or not Saleh was a placeholder until someone with more experience was available. Shanahan, after all, got a late start on building his staff because his previous team made it to the Super Bowl. Sure, he probably spoke with individuals about the possibility of joining his staff once hired, but nothing could be made official until after the Falcons played the Patriots.

Saleh proved doubters wrong. One of those unsure of Saleh's qualifications leading a defense was Shanahan. However, the new 49ers head coach had heard good things about him, according to a great read on Saleh by team reporter Joe Fann. Shanahan wanted Saleh to commit to being the team's linebackers coach before entertaining the idea of interviewing him for the open defensive coordinator job.

It was a tough decision for Saleh because he already had his former head coach in Jacksonville, Gus Bradley, urging him to head to Los Angeles where Bradley had just become the Chargers' defensive coordinator. Saleh had to choose between joining his mentor as a linebackers coach or joining San Francisco in the same role with a chance at more. He gambled and went with Shanahan's offer.

"You want to talk about one of the harder things I've had to do – it was separating from (Bradley)," Saleh told Fann. "His teaching ability and all that he's done for my family – that part was hard. I also felt like it was something that I had to do in order to see if I could do it on my own."

Even after committing to San Francisco, Saleh had to continue pushing for the chance to interview for the job he really wanted. All he wanted was an opportunity to prove himself, nothing more. Shanahan finally gave him a chance, hammered him with questions regarding the scheme for which Bradley was known, and was so impressed with Saleh's answers that he was offered the job.

"I was able to answer every question that Kyle had," Saleh said. "I was able to explain what we can do differently – what we could add to the scheme without disrupting the three-deep aspect."

You can read Fann's entire feature on Saleh at 49ers.com.