SANTA CLARA -- Seattle coach Pete Carroll has an easy time envisioning 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh soon taking the next step in his career.
After two seasons in which his job status was a constant question, Saleh has emerged this season as someone now viewed as a potential head-coaching candidate for 2020.
Carroll has sent such defensive coaches as Dan Quinn and Gus Bradley onto NFL head-coaching positions. Saleh worked with the Seahawks’ defensive staff from 2011 to ’13 before moving on to Jacksonville with Bradley. Saleh is in his third season on Kyle Shanahan’s staff with the 49ers.
Carroll said he "absolutely" can see Saleh becoming a head coach.
“He’s a very bright coach,” Carroll said of Saleh in a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “He’s a really first-class individual. He’s got really good strength of character, and his leadership qualities are obviously on display now. There’s no doubt.
“We’ve had some really good guys over the years that are in those positions, and he’s certainly one of them.”
The 49ers meet the Seahawks on Monday night at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers are 8-0, atop the NFC West, and riding the league’s No. 1-ranked defense under Saleh's direction into the prime-time matchup.
Carroll said he does remember who recommended Saleh for a position as a quality control coach on his staff after Saleh spent six seasons with the Houston Texans. But it did not take long for Saleh to make an impression.
“We interviewed him and really liked him, and were fortunate to get him, and he worked his way up,” Carroll said. “There was no question that Robert was going to be a really good ball coach and be a leader of the defense and all of that from the start. He’s doing a fantastic job.”