Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan ‘pumped’ Robert Saleh is remaining with the 49ers

Jan 13, 2020 at 11:49 AM--

The Cleveland Browns passed on San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh for their head coaching vacancy. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan could not be more excited. It means he gets to retain his talented assistant for at least another year.

Shanahan, by the way, is very excited Saleh is staying. He made that clear while speaking with reporters on Monday for nearly 20 minutes. "Excited" might not be the right word. He sounded downright thrilled.

While Saleh may be disappointed, especially after what was reported to be a strong interview by the defensive coordinator, the team-first minded Shanahan could not be more ecstatic by this weekend's hiring of Kevin Stefanski by the Browns.

"I was pumped," Shanahan told reporters. "I heard on my way into work (on Sunday), so I was extremely excited. I definitely have some empathy for Saleh. I know anyone who goes through that process and stuff, we're all competitive, and you want to win, and you want to get that opportunity and stuff.

"Every year we keep him, we'll be very fortunate. Saleh's going to be a head coach in this league. He could have been one this year. Most likely, he'll be one next year. But he's going to have the right opportunity come around for him. It's just a matter of time.

"I'm just very happy that we're going to have him going into next [season]."

Shanahan went on to say that replacing Saleh would have been difficult. There are assistants on the coaching staff right now in which he has a lot of confidence, but he's glad he doesn't have to think about staff turnover right now.

"That was something that I kind of just put in a box, and tied it up, and put it away," Shanahan continued. "I thought we would deal with that when the season ended, and now I'm glad I don't have to deal with it. Maybe we'll talk next year about that."

How did Saleh respond to Shanahan's excitement that the coordinator lost the competition for the Browns job?

"I mean, he knows me well enough to know how I am," Shanahan said, "but I'm definitely excited he didn't get it. That's not just for selfish reasons. It's because I care a lot about this organization too. So it definitely helps me, but it helps this whole organization, and I think it will help Saleh in the long-run.

"Like I said, he's going to be a head coach. He just needs the right opportunity. He's going to keep getting better and better, too."

Shanahan was asked how losing out on the job helps Saleh in the long-run.

"So he can be in California for another year," Shanahan said and then smiled.

There was a strong possibility that Saleh would have tried to lure an assistant or two from Shanahan's coaching staff had the Browns hired the coordinator. Shanahan acknowledged that there was some concern on his part surrounding that possibility.

"That would have been a tough part on our relationship," Shanahan jokingly added. "I would have never talked to him again if he did that."

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