SANTA CLARA -- The Cleveland Browns interviewed 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to be their head coach. They reportedly asked to interview some GM candidates that Saleh favored suggesting he was among the favorites.
The Browns hired Kevin Stefanski instead. The former Minnesota offensive coordinator became available after Saleh’s defense pushed the Vikings around in a 27-10 NFC divisional-round victory.
Saleh still has work to do this season, leading up to Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against Green Bay. He was focused on prepping for the Packers, but said he was fine not getting the Browns gig.
“There’s no disappointment,” Saleh said after Thursday’s practice. “I’m very grateful to the Browns for making me part of [their coaching search]. I’m a really big fan of [Browns owner] Jimmy Haslam and what he did and what they’re going to do. They hired the right guy and I think they’re going to do something special. I’m excited to see them progress.”
Head coach Kyle Shanahan was excited Saleh didn’t get the gig, expressing earlier in the week that he’s happy Saleh will stick around on the 49ers staff.
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Saleh took that tongue-in-cheek comment as it was intended, initially responding with a similar tone.
“It’s like a backhanded compliment, right?” Saleh said, laughing. “No, Kyle has always been a big supporter. He really supports his staff and he is not one to look at a coach and say, ‘I have to get rid of this dude.’ His first instinct is to make you better and help you get better. To understand Kyle and to work with Kyle is really gift that a lot of people should have once in their lives. He strives to make people better, and I think that’s what makes this organization tick.
"Everybody in this organization wants to get better, and that’s why Kyle is so invested in all of his coaches. I do believe him when he says he’s happy, because he has invested in me, so I take that as a compliment.”