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DeMeco Ryans gaining ‘traction’ to become Houston Texans head coach in 2023

DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans became only the second team in modern NFL history to have consecutive one-and-done coaches. Midway through their third coaching search in three years, DeMeco Ryans is reportedly gaining steam to take over in Houston.

Ryans, drafted by Houston with the 33rd pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, is a franchise icon. From 2006-’11, the former linebacker earned two Pro Bowl selections and won 2006 Defensive Rookie of the Year. More than a decade later, one of the most beloved players in franchise history could now be in a great position to become the head coach.

After retiring from the NFL following the 2015 season, Ryans joined the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff in 2017 as a defensive quality control coach. He quickly earned a promotion to inside linebackers coach in 2018, serving in that role for three seasons.

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When Robert Saleh left to become the New York Jets head coach in 2021, San Francisco quickly named Ryans as its defensive coordinator. The 38-year-old coach has quickly gained recognition as one of the best defensive play-callers in football, emerging as one of the best NFL coaching candidates in 2023.

  • DeMeco Ryans career stats: 72 tackles for loss, 46 pass deflections, 34 QB hits, 13.5 sacks

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Ryans’ interview with the Texans went late into the evening and many around the NFL believe he is firmly in the mix for the job.

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“People around the league believe he has traction in Houston. He played six years there, was a great player, played alongside J.J. Watt and others, well-respected.”

Jeremy Fowler on San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans

San Francisco boasts one of the best defenses in the NFL, despite multiple impact starters going down with injuries throughout the 2022 season. The success and glowing recommendations from players have left the 49ers’ organization preparing for Ryans to become a head coach in 2023.

Under the NFL’s Rooney Rule, San Francisco will receive compensatory 2023 and 2024 third-round picks if Ryans is hired as a head coach. He is scheduled to interview with the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals on Sunday before facing the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Divisional Round.

Facing significant competition to hire Ryans, Houston will be in a position where it needs to convince him to take the job. It will require an organization with one of the worst reputations in the NFL to prove to Ryans that it will provide him with whatever resources he needs to be successful after Houston fired coaches in consecutive seasons.

Related: Houston Texans GM willing to resign for new coach

If Ryans declines the position or is hired elsewhere, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton are two other candidates on the Texans’ radar. After pursuing Josh McCown in the past two hiring cycles, the departure of former executive Jack Easterby has seemingly taken him off the Texans’ radar.