With Sean Payton’s expected retirement announcement Tuesday, nine of the NFL’s 32 franchises currently feature head-coaching vacancies.
Both of the 49ers coordinators – DeMeco Ryans and Mike McDaniel – have conducted interviews this postseason for possible head-coaching gigs. With every passing week, it seems the stock of San Francisco’s first-year defensive coordinator, Ryans, is rising. In Saturday’s 13-10 win over the Green Bay Packers, the 49ers stifled Aaron Rodgers in the snow at Lambeau.
Personnel shuffling around the league continued Tuesday and it could have an impact on Ryans’ future with the 49ers. Former San Francisco exec and current Cleveland Browns VP of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has emerged a front-runner for the Minnesota Vikings general manager job, after the Chicago Bears’ reported hiring of Ryan Poles as GM.
Reporters like NFL Media’s Albert Breer and ESPN’s Nick Wagoner have already connected Adofo-Mensah with Ryans as a possible GM-coach pairing in Minnesota.
The 37-year-old Ryans has shined in his single season since succeeding Robert Saleh, who went 4-13 and finished last place in the AFC East with the New York Jets. Despite dealing with a host of injuries in the secondary, the 49ers finished top 10 in scoring (21.5 points per game, 9th), passing (206.5 yards per game, sixth) and rushing (103.5 yards per game, seventh).
Since moving Arik Armstead to the interior of the defensive line midway through the season, the 49ers defense has flourished. Armstead and Bosa have anchored the defensive line that has produced five sacks in three straight contests, all epic road wins by the 49ers. Ryans usually rushes four but dialed up a key blitz to help seal the Wild Card win in Dallas.
Adofo-Mensah, 40, is a Princeton and Stanford grad who started his professional career on Wall Street before breaking in with the NFL as the 49ers manager of football development and research in 2013. In 2017, he was promoted to 49ers director of football development and research, where he stayed until the Browns hired him in 2019.
Ryans and Adofo-Menash spent three seasons together. Ryans joined the 49ers as a quality control coach in 2017 before being promoted to inside linebackers coach in 2018 for a three-year stint.
Ryans was the NFL’s 2006 Defensive Rookie of the Year and made two Pro Bowls with the Houston Texans during a six-year stint, before spending four more seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and retiring in 2015.
He is regarded as a rising star who is destined for a head-coaching gig this offseason. Ryans will get another opportunity to add to his resume in Sunday's NFC Championship against the Rams.
Here’s a full list of the current NFL head-coaching vacancies:
1. Chicago Bears
2. Denver Broncos
3. Houston Texans
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
5. Las Vegas Raiders
6. Miami Dolphins
7. Minnesota Vikings
8. New Orleans Saints
9. New York Giants