By week's end, 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans could be the head coach of an NFL team -- most likely, the Houston Texans.
And former San Francisco safety Donte Whitner of NBC Sports Bay Area believes Ryans will excel in the role.
"DeMeco Ryans is finally ready to leave the 49ers organization and become a head coach of his own," Whitner said on the season's final edition of "Hitner's Hot Take," which, this week, was more of a warm goodbye.
Whitner reflected on Ryans' ascension from 49ers quality control coach in 2017 to inside linebackers coach from 2018 to 2020, and now, he has served as San Francisco's defensive coordinator for the last two seasons.
This year, Ryans led the 49ers' defense to the No. 1 ranking in both yards allowed per game and points allowed per game during the regular season, inspiring teams like the Texans and Denver Broncos to interview him for their head-coaching vacancies.
But in addition to the numbers, Whitner believes it's the intangibles that make Ryans ready for the next chapter in his coaching career.
"His high character, his ability to relate to the players will make for a great head coach," Whitner concluded.
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Houston reportedly could make Ryans their next coach in the coming days, which would be a homecoming for the 38-year-old after starting his NFL playing career with the Texans in 2006.
But no matter where Ryans is next season, he certainly will be missed in the Bay -- though he's sure to succeed.