Are 49ers true contenders in 2021 or just pretenders?

Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers against the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers against the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Robert Saleh, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

Loss of 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh can’t be overlooked

Exit Robert Saleh and enter one DeMeco Ryans. Saleh, now the New York Jets head coach, made his bones in the NFL by leading extremely talented defensives to perform at a very high level. But, Robert Saleh did more than succeed with a talented roster.

He continuously adapted and evolved his defensive schemes to place the defense in the most advantageous position. His in-game adjustments are also noteworthy. It can be argued that he is probably the best in-game defensive play-caller since Bill Belichick. He even dominated last season even though he lost seven starters finishing in the top ten.

Those are some pretty big shoes to fill. This year, the 49ers’ defense is led by wunderkind defensive coach DeMeco Ryans, a former NFL linebacker who played for ten seasons with the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles.

As a player, he was twice named to the Pro Bowl. As a coach, all he has done is impress. In a fairly short coaching career, he has sky-rocketed from defensive quality control coach to the team’s defensive coordinator within the span of five years. That alone is a remarkable feat.

So far, DeMeco Ryans seems to be up to the task of replacing Robert Saleh. Through two games, the 49ers are regularly ranked as the No. 2 team per However, his defensive squad has faced teams in the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles that are not expected to go far.

Ryan’s first true test will come on Sunday when the team faces off against the Super Bowl-hopeful Green Bay Packers. Let’s see if Ryans will be able to adjust his scheme against future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers.