49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans balances time between playoff game prep, upcoming interviews with Texans, others

Retired Texans linebacker on schedule to interview with Texans after contemplating whether to meet with them, turning down Panthers interview request

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Charles Omenihu (94) and linebacker Fred Warner (54) celebrate after defensive end Samson Ebukam sacked Arizona Cardinals quarterback David Blough during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vsquez) (Godofredo A. Vásquez, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – DeMeco Ryans is a busy man, a man of the moment in the NFL playoffs and the NFL hiring cycle.

The San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator is balancing his time between preparing for a divisional round playoff game Sunday between the winner of Monday night’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

And Ryans, a retired Pro Bowl Texans linebacker, is also making time for interviews with the Denver Broncos, Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals after declining a request from the Carolina Panthers. While Ryans, who’s expected to interview with the Texans after contemplating whether he would meet with his former NFL employer years after filing a lawsuit in 2014 in Harris County in excess of $10 million stemming from a torn Achilles suffered on the artificial turf at NRG Stadium, is prioritizing his responsibilities with the 49ers, he’s also thinking about his bright coaching future as a potential first-time head coach.

The game plan is being installed over the next two days before practices Wednesday and Thursday. Ryans can interview virtually, or NFL teams can travel to the Bay Area to meet with him.

This is much different than when 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan left the Atlanta Falcons. He interviewed during a bye week.

“I think my advice is you just have to set that aside to specific times that you are going to deal with it,” Shanahan said during a press conference. “It was very easy for me because, at that time when we had the two seeds, we had a bye week, so I was able to set aside time. We got three days off and I was able to set aside two days only for those interviews, so I knocked them all out then and there wasn’t anything after that. I completely shut it off and went right back to the playoffs. And the difference for DeMeco is it’ll be similar to what [Miami Dolphins coach Mike] McDaniel had to go through last year.

“We don’t have that bye week, but I think he has a couple of times set aside for Thursday and Friday, which he’ll do two interviews, I believe those two days, with Denver and Houston, and then I think I’ll plan on the other ones after. On Friday afternoons we typically get some time off, so that shouldn’t cut into anything, and usually on Thursdays, we finish a little bit earlier than we do on the other nights in the week, so he has a chance to do that Thursday night. When you just set the time aside for that, it’s a lot for DeMeco to kind of prepare for it, but I think he is prepared for it. And when you’re done with those, you go right back to the most important thing at hand then and that’s us finding a way to win this Sunday.”

Ryans, 38, is a former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and a first-round draft pick from Alabama who played a decade in the NFL for the Texans and Philadelphia Eagles. He began coaching in 2017 with the 49ers as a defensive quality control coach before being promoted to inside linebackers coach and then defensive coordinator.

“DeMeco is so naturally talented and he’s good at everything he’s ever done and he really understands football,” Shanahan said. “He did as a player, he did as a quality control in his first year. He did as a linebacker coach, and he has as a coordinator, and he was good right away. But, anytime you have someone who does have those types of abilities, the more reps they get, like everybody, they get better.

“You go through experiences and you learn from the good and the bad and that’s what’s pretty neat about DeMeco because he was going to be good regardless, but just watching him throughout last year, each game, each quarter, he learned something. And he’s always trying to think and always trying to challenge his players, but always trying to keep it simple, too.”

A former Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year and two-time Pro Bowl selection, Ryans oversees an aggressive defense headlined by defensive end Nick Bosa and Fred Warner. Ryans has gotten a lot out of former Texans defensive end Charles Omenihu, who had two sacks and a forced fumble in a wild-card playoff game win over the Seattle Seahawks.

“He’s the best,” Warner said. “And I don’t just say that just because, obviously, he’s my coach. I know what greatness looks like and he shows that every day, not only just as a coach, but as a person. His leadership ability, the teachability that he possesses, and his continuing to want to get better as a coach is shown every day. He wants this group to get better and pushes us and makes sure that he prepares every single day to make sure he gives us his best self.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com

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