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Houston Texans hire DeMeco Ryans as head coach 

DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans have hired DeMeco Ryans as their head coach, naming the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator to replace Lovie Smith.

After firing Smith on Jan. 8, the second consecutive one-and-done coach in Houston, Ryans quickly emerged as a leading candidate to take over. The 38-year-old emerged as one of the top NFL coaching candidates in 2023, landing interview requests from all five teams with head-coaching vacancies this offseason.

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Shortly after interviewing with the Texans, Ryans canceled meetings with the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals. As one of the best defensive minds in the NFL prepared to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game, reports surfaced that he became the primary target for the Texans and Denver Broncos.

Facing competition to hire Ryans from one of the richest NFL owners, Houston pulled ahead and emerged as the favorite to land the coveted coach. Now, Ryans will become the next Texans’ coach.

Ryans met with Texans’ officials on Tuesday for a second interview, finalizing the details of his coaching staff. Now he is headed back home to where his NFL career began.

Related: NFL stars rave about DeMeco Ryans

He will become the seventh head coach in Texans’ franchise history and their fourth consecutive Black head coach, including interim Romeo Crennel (2020).

DeMeco Ryans coaching career

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

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 returns as the head coach.

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

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.

Ryans replaced Saleh as the defensive coordinator in 2021, taking over a unit that lost a top strategist and defensive architect. Despite a slew of injuries to San Francisco’s secondary and defensive line in each of the past two seasons, Ryans orchestrated one of the best NFL defenses for two consecutive years.

Opp. PPGOpp. YPGPressure RateYards per PlayDVOA Rank
202121.5 (10th)310 (3rd)24.1% (20th)5.1 (4th)-7.4% (7th)
202216.4 (1st)301.3 (2nd)22.9% (11th)5.0 (4th)-14.1% (1st)
2022 defensive stats via Football Outsiders and Pro Football Reference

While Ryans’ defensive mind helped him land on the radar to become an NFL head coach, his leadership, approach with players, and mentality landed him the position. He is widely respected around the league and his hiring could be a turning point for the Texans’ franchise.