4 teams that could hire Robert Saleh away from SF 49ers

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /
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Robert Saleh, SF 49ers
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

SF 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is a hot name among head-coaching candidates, and these four teams could be interested in 2021.

It’s no secret the SF 49ers could lose their defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, to a head-coaching vacancy this offseason.

Saleh was already a candidate last year after leading the Niners’ elite-level defense in 2019, getting just one interview with the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland ultimately went with former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, but that doesn’t mean Saleh will be out of the running on potential openings this offseason.

Especially considering Saleh has turned in the league’s fifth-ranked defense, in terms of yards allowed, despite the swarm of injuries San Francisco has suffered this year.

There are already a number of open vacancies for 2021, and more are likely to pop up on the Monday after Week 17. Saleh is already on the short list of top names for head-coaching openings next season, and it wouldn’t be a shock if head coach Kyle Shanahan loses one of his top assistants to such a vacancy.

If Saleh leaves, one of these four potential spots make a lot of sense.

No. 4: Jacksonville Jaguars

For whatever the reasons, the Jacksonville Jaguars have retained head coach Doug Marrone despite falling from a 10-6 team in 2017 to a regular sub-.500 squad in subsequent years.

And there’s a good chance the Jags finish this year with the league’s worst record, or at least tied for it with the two-win NY Jets.

2021 could mark Marrone’s departure, and Jacksonville would be seeking a replacement capable of molding a defense that still has a modest number of defensive playmakers on the roster. Plus, the Jaguars defense is still using a 4-3 Under base in the wake of former head coach Gus Bradley’s dismissal in 2016.

Interestingly enough, Saleh was there under Bradley as a linebackers coach. And Saleh also worked with the Jaguars’ current defensive coordinator, Todd Walsh, who went from defensive line coach to his current role during Saleh’s last season in Jacksonville.

Whether or not Saleh would want to retain Walsh in the same role is anyone’s guess. But the fact there wouldn’t need to be too many defensive scheme adjustments makes the Jaguars a real possibility.