Schrager pinpoints why 49ers not surefire SB contender


Many have pointed to the 49ers' offense, specifically the play at quarterback, as a reason the Niners haven't been able to complete the organization's mission of winning a Super Bowl in recent years. NFL Network's Peter Schrager, on the other hand, sees an issue on the other side of the ball that could affect San Francisco in 2021.

"DeMeco Ryans, former player for the Houston Texans, is now the defensive coordinator. It's his first time being a coordinator, everyone says it is going well, he's got Bosa, he's got Armstead, he's got all the guys. He's got Fred Warner on a new contract, but that is a loaded division and that is a big responsibility for a team that is talking Super Bowl for a first-year defensive coordinator, and we'll see how that goes," Schrager said on "The Bill Simmons Podcast."

Interestingly enough, Schrager then pointed to the Seattle Seahawks as a more viable contender, despite that team also featuring a first-year coordinator on the offensive side of the ball.

Also, you don't have to go back too far to find a Super Bowl-winning team featuring a first-year defensive coordinator. Dan Quinn was in his first season as an NFL defensive coordinator when he helped lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos. Quinn had been a defensive coordinator at multiple collegiate stops prior to coming to Seattle, but had never done it at the professional level.


Ryans has been on the 49ers' staff since 2017, when he began as a defensive quality control coach. After serving three seasons as the 49ers' inside linebackers coach, Ryans was promoted to coordinator this offseason after Robert Saleh left to take the New York Jets' head coaching job.

Learning under one of the league's top defensive minds, Ryans indeed has gotten strong reviews from his first training camp in charge of a defense. To shore up that lack of experience at the top, the 49ers have a pair of former NFL defensive coordinators on Ryans' staff assisting him.

“Just having a chance to work with DeMeco has been great,” Senior defensive assistant James Bettcher recently said. “This is a guy that’s not a good communicator, he’s an elite communicator. He has elite energy when he comes into the building.”

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Bettcher was a defensive coordinator for five years from 2015 to 19 with the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants. Cory Undlin, who helps oversee the secondary and serves as a run game specialist, was the Detroit Lions' defensive coordinator in 2020.

Ryans won't have the chance to truly prove his ability until the regular season opens against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 12, and the defense certainly will have a major impact on the 49ers' Super Bowl aspirations.

Saleh's defense is what carried the 49ers to the Super Bowl just a few seasons ago, and it will be Ryans' turn in 2021 to see if he can do the same.

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