5 SF 49ers free agents who follow Robert Saleh to NY Jets

Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers talks with defensive coordinator Robert Saleh (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers talks with defensive coordinator Robert Saleh (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
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Robert Saleh, Richard Sherman, SF 49ers
Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh and Richard Sherman #25 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

With SF 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh hired by the Jets, Niner Noise looks at which free agents may follow him.

It was a major shock to the SF 49ers and the general following of the NFL that Robert Saleh didn’t get a head coaching job following his 2019 résumé. He had one job interview with the Cleveland Browns but ended up returning to the Niners for another year of shepherding a defense ripe with talent and coming off a season of dominance.

The 2020 NFL season didn’t go as expected.

A plethora of injuries severely limited the high-end capabilities of a defense that had ranked second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA in 2019, at minus-20 percent (negative is better).  The end result this year, minus the bookend edge-rushers among many others? Minus-9.9 percent, good for sixth in the league this year.

Clearly, the defense missed the high-end talent EDGEs Nick Bosa and Dee Ford provided. But to still be ranked sixth despite the number of players missing?

That’s phenomenal coaching, and a clear indication Saleh had developed as a play-caller.

Saleh also had grown significantly in terms of diversifying his play-calls, adjusting the traditional Cover 3, single-high scheme he was hired to do to play more two-deep safety looks, allowing the defense to excel despite the personnel losses.

It comes as no surprise Saleh was hired as the new coach of the NY Jets after garnering significant interest from most if not all hiring teams. He leaves the SF 49ers with a stellar performance record and having left a strong impression on most of his former players.

Although Saleh is more than capable of adapting his scheme to the players the Jets have right now, he probably will look to sign some of his former players as he tries to build a culture in New York. The fact the Jets have $70 million in cap space right now, and will likely be near that number despite the restrictive cap for the 2021 NFL season, per Over The Cap, only amplifies the idea the SF 49ers may be losing more than just assistants to New York.

With that in mind, Niner Noise will take a look at five free agents who are more likely to make the move over to the Big Apple.