Bijani: DeMeco Ryans wasting no time searching for key assistants

(SportsRadio 610) - Fresh off one of the most exciting days the Texans have had in quite some time, new head coach DeMeco Ryans hit the ground running in search of his top assistant coaches.

Ryans, 38, who coordinated the San Francisco 49ers defense the previous two seasons, appears to be looking for someone else to take that title with the Texans.

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According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2, Ryans and the Texans have interest in 49ers defensive passing game specialist and secondary coach Cory Undlin to be the defensive coordinator.

Undlin, 51, just wrapped up his second season with the 49ers after spending the 2020 season with the Detroit Lions as their defensive coordinator. A forgettable season, the Lions defense under Undlin finished with the worst defense in football.

Ryans and Undlin spent one season together in Philadelphia. In 2015, it was Ryans' final year in the league, while Undlin was breaking in with his fifth NFL team as a defensive backs coach.

Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ball, Ryans and the Texans have interviewed three candidates thus far for the coordinator position.

Among those are Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley, along with 49ers passing game coordinator Bobby Slowik and Bengals receivers coach Troy Walters.

Caley, the latest to talk with Ryans and the team, has worked with the New England Patriots organization since 2015 when he joined as an offensive assistant.

Caley, 40, like Texans general manager Nick Caserio, is a graduate from John Carrol University.

He’s coached the Patriots tight ends since 2017 and is the longest tenured offensive assistant coach currently in staff.

With his contract set to expire, Caley interviewed earlier this offseason for the offensive coordinator spot with the New York Jets before they filled the position with former Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

Slowik just completed his 10th season in the NFL and first as the 49ers offensive passing game coordinator.

The 35-year old assistant began his NFL coaching career with Washington in 2010 as a video assistant before earning a promotion to defensive assistant the following season under then-head coach Mike Shanahan.

Taking a three-year hiatus from the league after Shanahan was fired in 2013, Slowik worked as an analyst for Pro Football Focus. Slowik joined the 49ers staff under Kyle Shanahan ahead of the 2017 season.

Bengals assistant Walters just completed his third season with the team and second as their wide receivers coach.

This guy has some pelts on the wall.

Walters, of course, has been working with a talented group of receivers in Cincinnati: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.

Those three combined for 2,837 yards on 219 catches and 21 touchdowns this past season.

Prior to joining the Bengals in 2020, Walters had three different stints in college as an offensive coordinator, none more impressive than his two seasons at the University of Central Florida (2016-2017).

A finalist for the Broyles Award in 2017 when UCF finished 13-0 under head coach Scott Frost, Walters helped facilitate one of the most drastic turnarounds in college football history during his time in Florida.

Inheriting the worst offense in college football ahead of the 2016 season, the Knights were averaging a pathetic 13.9 points per game. After the 2017 season, they ranked fifth in total offense and averaged 48.2 points per game for the season.

Filling out the coaching staff with top assistants is something that didn’t seem possible a matter of weeks ago. However, making one of the league's top candidates their new head coach has allows them some of the very best assistants at their disposal.

Shaun Bijani has spent the last 16 years covering the Houston sports scene for SportsRadio 610. Follow him on Twitter @ShaunBijani.

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