Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Emotional Fred Warner on 49ers’ DeMeco Ryans: “He’s the reason I’m the player I am today”

Jan 29, 2023 at 5:16 PM--

San Francisco 49ers players looked like they were saying farewell to DeMeco Ryans after the team's 31-7 defeat in the NFC Championship Game. The defensive coordinator is a top candidate for head-coaching jobs. After Sunday's game, NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Ryans is expected to become the Houston Texans' next coach, assuming this week's second interview goes well.

The fact that Ryans may have coached the 49ers defense for the last time finally hit players in the locker room at Lincoln Financial Field after their season ended.

"I hadn't thought about it up to this point because obviously you think you're going to win it all," linebacker Fred Warner admitted. "Seeing him was emotional. It was the first time it kind of hit me that this was the last one with him. We came into this thing together, and I owe everything to him. He's the reason I'm the player I am today."

It sure sounds like head coach Kyle Shanahan will be searching for a new defensive coordinator this offseason, which sadly starts earlier than hoped for the 49ers. He isn't excited about losing Ryans, who helped the 49ers finish the 2022 season with the top-ranked defense.

"I hope his wife doesn't get mad, but I hope he's not a head coach next year," Shanahan jokingly said this past week. "But if he is, he more than deserves it."

Shanahan admits that he thought he would lose Ryans last offseason. The defensive coordinator turned down a second interview with the Minnesota Vikings and opted not to look into the Las Vegas Raiders' interest to remain with the 49ers one more season.

All of Ryans' players know he deserves a head coach job. They believe he has what it takes to lead an NFL franchise.

"He's fully deserving to go on and be a head coach. It hit hard today, for sure," Warner said.

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