49ers turning to Vic Fangio if DeMeco Ryans leaves in 2023?

Head Coach Vic Fangio of the Denver Broncos and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Head Coach Vic Fangio of the Denver Broncos and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

The 49ers may have a contingency plan in place if they end up losing defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans to a head-coaching job next season.

The San Francisco 49ers came awfully close to losing all three of their coordinators from 2021.

As things turned out, they lost two of them. Special teams coordinator Richard Hightower, whom the Niners may not have wanted back anyway after this crucial third phase of the game struggled, opted to take the same position with the Chicago Bears during the offseason.

And, of course, San Francisco watched its up-and-coming offensive coordinator, Mike McDaniel, jump ship to take over the head-coaching job with the Miami Dolphins.

That leaves only one of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s three assistants from the 2021 squad, defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, in place heading into 2022.

Ryans, too, was nearly plucked away but ultimately turned down the opportunity to pursue a vacancy with the Minnesota Vikings for their head-coaching spot.

Great news for Shanahan and the 49ers. Ryans picked up right where his predecessor, now-New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh, left off.

However, especially if the Niners defense winds up performing at a similar level this season as it did in 2021, it wouldn’t be overly shocking to see Ryans right back up there on the shortlist of extremely sought-after coaching candidates.

What would San Francisco do?

49ers could turn to Vic Fangio as DeMeco Ryans replacement

Current coaching “free agent,” Vic Fangio, last served as the Denver Broncos head coach from 2019 through 2021 before being fired early in the offseason. Before that, he was the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator from 2015 through 2018.

And few 49ers fans will forget Fangio’s defenses in the Bay Area under then-head coach Jim Harbaugh between 2011 and 2014.

Fangio was in attendance during the Niners’ opening rookie-camp practices last week. And while he told reporters he was merely visiting, it’s hard not to draw the correlation and create some long-term speculation as a result.

Check out the last part from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch’s tweet.

Shanahan wanted to onboard Fangio as San Francisco’s defensive coordinator back in 2017, and you might recall that. But Fangio couldn’t get out of his obligation to Chicago, which eventually led to Shanahan picking Saleh.

Read More: 4 reasons why DeMeco Ryans impressed us in 2021

In the end, that decision worked out well enough.

Yet there’s an awfully strong possibility, perhaps even a probability Ryans will wind up being named some other team’s head coach in 2023, once again creating a void within Shanahan’s ranks of coordinators.

While Fangio’s lone go-around as a head coach might not have gone well, he’s nevertheless one of the NFL’s most respected and well-renowned defensive coordinators.

Perhaps the 49ers are starting that courting process as early as they can.

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