Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan confirms Robert Saleh will interview with Falcons, offers strong endorsement

Jan 3, 2021 at 5:38 PM--

FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported on Sunday that the Atlanta Falcons are expected to interview San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh for their head-coaching vacancy.

"I think he's going to interview in Atlanta as early as Monday," Glazer said.

After the 49ers' 26-23 Week 17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed the report.

"I know Saleh's going to have a number (of interviews) lined up," Shanahan said. "I think he is going to get one with Atlanta pretty fast. It's a little weird situation with these guys are interviewing out of Zoom, and not kind of the normal way that you do it, but I am pretty sure he's got one with Atlanta tomorrow, and I know others will start coming later in the week."

According to NFL Network's Peter Schrager, Saleh is also expected to interview with the Detroit Lions later in the week. The 49ers defensive coordinator is considered the favorite to fill the vacancy in Detroit.

"I was very happy with what he did throughout the whole year," Shanahan added. "I would be very surprised if we don't lose him. I don't know what's wrong with people if they don't hire him. I mean, he's as good as you can get, and he knows more about football, all three phases, and he's going to hire the best staff, knows about players, he knows what they're talking about, who doesn't know what they're talking about, and he also knows how to deal with people."

Shanahan remains hopeful that the 49ers can hold onto Saleh but knows that is unlikely. The coach also feels several in-house options could take the defensive coordinator's place.

"I hope everyone's not very smart and doesn't hire him so I can keep him, but I'm expecting not to have him," Shanahan said. "We've got a lot of other good guys on our staff, and I know there will be a number of options, and we've got a number of good players, and what we've built here over the four years with Saleh, with the whole coaching staff, we haven't made many changes, so there's a lot of guys who we've all grown here together, and we've got a lot of players who are used to it too.

"So, I expect whatever we end up deciding here, and obviously, we'll wait to see what happens with Saleh, but I know the Niners will be alright."

Fred Warner spoke fondly of his defensive coordinator, saying that Saleh always believed in him from the moment the 49ers drafted the linebacker.

"That guy is an amazing coach," Warner told reporters after the game, "and if he does get the opportunity to go and be a head coach somewhere, I'd be so happy for him, and I know he'll do an amazing job. I wish we could have pulled this one out for not only him but just the rest of the team."

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