49ers must replace DeMeco Ryans with one of these top coordinators

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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The 49ers are losing DeMeco Ryans to the Texans’ coaching vacancy, but one of these replacements could help alleviate the loss.

2023 will mark the third consecutive year that San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has had to hire a coordinator.

Entering 2021, it was defensive coordinator Robert Saleh who departed for a head-coaching job with the New York Jets. A year later, offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel was off to the Miami Dolphins as their new head coach.

Now, entering 2023, defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans will get his own program going with a team with which he spent six years as a player, the Houston Texans.

It’s impressive to see Shanahan’s coaching tree growing so rapidly. At the same time, however, it has to be exhausting for Shanahan to constantly see his crop of assistants turning over in a massive way.

So far, Shanahan has been able to navigate the ever-changing group of assistants, but he might be inclined to search outside of the building for Ryans’ replacement instead of promoting from within, which was the case with Ryans initially after Saleh left.

Related Story: 3 internal candidates 49ers can promote to replace DeMeco Ryans

If so, these four defensive coordinators make a ton of sense for San Francisco.

49ers defensive coordinator candidate No. 4: Lovie Smith

Ryans is off to replace Houston’s one-and-done head coach, Lovie Smith, who never had much of a chance to make things work with the Texans after they fired another one-and-done head coach, David Culley, last offseason.

Smith, 64 years old, has been around the league long enough to have seen a bit of everything. And while his head-coaching stops with both Houston, the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all went sour, there’s little question he’s a solid defensive-minded candidate.

Without much defensive firepower, the Texans defense nevertheless finished tied for the fourth most takeaways (27) during the regular season despite a clear lack of impact players at all three levels.

One can imagine what a coach like Smith could do if he had the kind of weaponry the 49ers boast.