49ers end-of-year grades for Kyle Shanahan, his coordinators

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
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Azeez Al-Shaair, Nick Bosa, DeMeco Ryans, Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers
Azeez Al-Shaair #51, Nick Bosa #97, Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Arik Armstead #91 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

DeMeco Ryans. A-. player. Scouting Report. Defensive Coordinator. . Pick Analysis. 42

End-of-year grade for 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans

While the 49ers can’t be overly thrilled with their special teams output in 2021, they should be wholly satisfied with the efforts put in by DeMeco Ryans, his first year on the job after inheriting the position from now-New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh a season ago.

Granted, Ryans inherited a stacked defense and was boosted by the return of EDGE Nick Bosa from last season’s ACL tear.

Still, the expectation was Ryans would go through growing pains in year one of his role, while the Niners offense would have to pick up the proverbial slack. And early on, particularly in Week 1, it looked like that would be the case.

Things finally started clicking for Ryans when he moved defensive tackle Arik Armstead to the inside of the formation, which freed up the pass rush and placed less pressure on Bosa. While Ryans could still afford to be a bit more aggressive with his blitz packages (San Francisco blitzed just 19.8 percent of the time, which was fourth lowest), the ability to adjust his coverage schemes while moving Armstead paid off handsomely.

So did having the wherewithal to bench struggling cornerback Josh Norman late in the season.

As a result, the 49ers finished 2021 with the league’s No. 9-ranked scoring defense and the third-best defense in terms of yards allowed.

Commendable, and it’s likely Ryans will be a head coach in the not-so-distant future.

Grade: A-