SF 49ers: 4 potential replacements for Robert Saleh in 2021

Robert Saleh, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Robert Saleh, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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SF 49ers, Raheem Morris
Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

SF 49ers Candidate No. 2: Raheem Morris

When Dan Quinn gave up defensive play-calling to Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris during the 2019 NFL season, Atlanta’s defense improved significantly. When Quinn was ultimately fired during the 2020 season, Morris was subsequently named the interim coach, and lo and behold, the Falcons improved.

Although he has made an admirable effort as an interim head coach, it is unlikely Morris receives widespread traction as a head coach candidate, and it is unlikely the Falcons continue with a remnant of the Quinn past, leaving him a noteworthy candidate as a defensive coordinator. Although at first glance he seems to carry many of the same concerns Quinn does, the reality is a little different.

Morris got the majority of his experience working in Tampa Bay, eventually becoming a head coach there following now-Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s departure. Morris worked under longtime coach Monte Kiffin before replacing him on the defensive side of the ball, which means he holds many of the schematic tendencies of the great defensive mind who helped create the now-famous Tampa 2 scheme. This article here from Blogging with the Boys does a great job of summarizing the main tendencies of the Kiffin defense, which in turn helps explain what Morris does.

Morris, because of learning from both Kiffin and working with Quinn, will run both Cover 3 and more Cover 2 or two-safety high looks. By doing so, he has a more varied approach to defense that better matches what the SF 49ers do now on defense.

Additionally, the usage of a Tampa 2-style defense at times might prove additionally valuable with the Niners, given the coverage abilities linebacker Fred Warner brings to the table.

Overall, if the SF 49ers are thinking about hiring outside the organization, Morris would be an excellent hire.