Teams in need of a defensive coordinator are getting a head start on the 49ers.
But, as coach Kyle Shanahan described last week, he has no reason to be too worried if defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is hired away as a head coach.
“We're going to be all right,” Shanahan said. “And if that's presented and we do lose Saleh, I'll be excited to put together the best decision possible because I think I'm going to have a lot of good choices.”
Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was hired on Monday as defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. He replaces former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan, who was fired last week.
Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and former Dallas Cowboys defensive play-caller Kris Richard reportedly have conducted interviews with the Raiders, who fired Paul Guenther in mid-December.
Quinn, Bradley and Richard each have served as the Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator. The 49ers have run a system under Saleh that is based on the Seahawks’ system.
One reason all the action around the league might not be a concern for Shanahan is because the organization’s next defensive coordinator might already be on staff.
In fact, Shanahan said he believes linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans will be a defensive coordinator. And, he didn’t stop there, saying he expects Ryans’ career to continue to grow.
"Of course, I’d consider DeMeco," Shanahan said. "It’s only a matter of time before DeMeco’s a coordinator in this league, and it’s a matter of time before DeMeco’s going to be a head coach."
Under a resolution NFL owners passed in November, a team that loses a minority assistant coach to a head-coaching position will receive third-round compensatory picks in each of the next two drafts.
Saleh, whose departure for a head-coaching job would provide the 49ers with compensation, is a known candidate for the current head-coaching vacancies with the Falcons, Lions, Jets, Jaguars and Chargers.
Ryans, whose 10-year NFL playing career ended in 2015, has helped mold 49ers All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner and second-year standout Dre Greenlaw during his time with the 49ers. Ryans has received support from former 49ers and current NBC Sports Bay Area analysts Donte Whitner, Takeo Spikes and Ian Williams.
It seems reasonable that if Shanahan truly believes Ryans will be a defensive coordinator, then he should not take the chance of letting him get away to fill that position with some other team.