Robert Saleh has the 49ers' defense on a roll. San Francisco's defensive coordinator has this group hitting on all fronts, which has been a big key to the team's 3-0 start.
The 49ers rank third in yards allowed per game (283.3), sixth in passing yards allowed per game (208.3), fifth in rushing yards allowed per game (75) and eighth in points allowed per game (18). Could this put Saleh, 40, in position be a future NFL head coach?
Connor Orr of Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback believes so. Orr compiled a list of 13 coordinators around the league that could one day be a head coach, and he wrote highly on Saleh.
"Saleh is energetic and young, and he comes from a great coaching tree," Orr wrote. "The 49ers are 3-0, second in total defense and are top 10 in both sacks and interceptions at a time when the interception is declining generally. Does he have tremendous talent up front? Yes, but the simplistic beauty of his defense allows good players to move fast and keep up with well-schemed offenses."
Saleh is in his third season as the 49ers' defensive coordinator. His group was one of the worst in the league last season, but after adding players like edge rusher Dee Ford and linebacker Kwon Alexander in the offseason, and drafting defensive end Nick Bosa, Saleh's defense is imposing fear into opposing offenses.
The last time a former 49ers defensive coach became a head coach was ... this season. Broncos head coach Vic Fangio served as San Francisco's defensive coordinator from the 2011 season through 2014. He's off to a rough start taking the reigns in Denver, however, as the Broncos now are 0-4 this season.
Coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers' front office certainly hope they can keep Saleh in San Francisco, but he might have even bigger opportunities down the road.