Robert Saleh must regret leaving 49ers to become Jets head coach

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Every coordinator dreams of becoming an NFL head coach, including former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

Taking over the New York Jets has been anything but a fairytale for the former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh.

There’s a scene from The Office where Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) walks into his former place of employment (Dunder Mifflin) and says “well, well, well… how the turntables” after his old boss wants to buy out the Michael Scott Paper Company, basically hiring Scott and his team back.

Saleh would be like Michael Scott, knowing full well he shouldn’t have accepted a position with the Jets, and the Niners are Dunder Mifflin: confused as to what he’s doing, but would welcome him back anytime.

We know Saleh won’t be returning soon to San Francisco, or possibly ever again, but you have to feel it’s almost the same scenario. The Jets are a franchise in complete shambles, and the 49ers, though not dominating the league this year, are a well-respected organization that is still chugging along en route to a playoff berth.

The Jets started out their new era by taking BYU quarterback Zach Wilson second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. And, they signed quite a few decent free agents including defensive end Carl Lawson for three years, $45 million. Saleh also brought over former Niners running back Tevin Coleman as a friendly face on offence.

Unfortunately for the rookie head coach, New York hasn’t been all bright lights and successful shows. The Jets are an organization that’s either been slightly above average or downright terrible.

Right now, they’re the latter.

Can’t blame Robert Saleh for leaving 49ers for Jets, but does he regret it?

Coordinators almost always jump ship for a first-time head-coaching opportunity when given the chance, and Saleh was one of the hottest names on the market last offseason.

Great for him, even knowing full well New York would require a lot of work.

The hope from Jets fans was Saleh would come in and help their defence while the offence took meaningful strides under Wilson. It’s not a big ask from their fanbase, but the task seemed to be unattainable.

Oh, and their playoff hopes were unattainable, too:

In his final two years with the 49ers, Saleh was the mastermind of a top-five defence. This season, San Francisco is bordering between good and average. And sometimes terrible, at least earlier this season.

You have to wonder if he’s thinking about unfinished business with San Francisco. Despite a 6-10 record in 2020, the 49ers are in a much better in 2021. And their defence, which Saleh helped build, enters Week 17 ranked sixth best in the league in yards given up.

EDGE Nick Bosa is once again ruining quarterbacks lives, linebacker Fred Warner is still causing mayhem in the middle despite what could be considered a “down year” for him, and the secondary, though many problems, are trending in the right direction with their rookie corners.

You can’t help but wonder how Saleh would’ve managed the defence in the three losses to the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals early in the year. All games San Francisco could’ve and should’ve won, but the defence just didn’t seem right.

Related Story: DeMeco Ryans redeemed himself as defensive coordinator

Current defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans wasn’t gaining a lot of support from the Faithful with how he handled certain situations. But as of late, he’s managed to bring the defence out of the gutter and into the spotlight:

As the Niners inch closer to the postseason while the Jets impatiently wait for a winning season again, you can’t help but feel for Saleh.

He’s a great coach and person, who’s probably wondering if he jumped ship one season too soon.

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