Former 49ers coordinator finds his head-coaching seat red hot entering 2024

Would the Niners entertain a reunion with Robert Saleh if things ultimately don't work out between him and the Jets this season?
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh / Luke Hales/GettyImages

Robert Saleh could be enduring his final year as the Jets' head coach if things don't turn around in a hurry over the course of 2024.

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh faces a crucial crossroads.

Entering his fourth season at the helm of Gang Green after turning the San Francisco 49ers' defense into a perennial powerhouse, efforts that aided in getting him the job in the Big Apple, Saleh will be under pressure to not only deliver New York its first winning season since 2015 but to also end a playoff drought that extends all the way back to 2010.

It won't be easy. At least not with other playoff contenders in the AFC East, such as the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. And, within a stacked conference, even a solid 10-win season might not be enough to play football deep into January.

No wonder Saleh finds himself on the coaching hot seat entering 2024 after posting an 18-33 record over his first three years in New York.

Listed as one such hot-seat coach in this situation by CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin, the former Niners defensive coordinator is in a precarious spot with the pressure to deliver now.

Benjamin wrote:

"Saleh's first two years confirmed his talent as a defensive teacher, but they went to waste as the offense -- both young quarterback Zach Wilson and Saleh's handpicked staff -- flailed repeatedly. Championship hopes rightfully surfaced once general manager Joe Douglas landed [Aaron] Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers ahead of 2023, but the grand plan evaporated after three regular-season snaps, thanks to the nearly 40-year-old quarterback going down behind a weak O-line. All the while, Saleh inexplicably returned to -- and stayed with -- Wilson as the Plan B, essentially guaranteeing a third straight losing season."

As Benjamin also noted, so much of 2024 hinges upon Rodgers' health. If the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer can keep his on-field mojo at a high enough level, the Jets offense may finally be able to climb out of the doldrums it has otherwise experienced with other signal-callers under center during Saleh's tenure.

That said, there are already apparent rifts between coach and quarterback, which weren't aided by Rodgers' high-profile absence from mandatory minicamp.

Winning cures all, though. That's what both Saleh and Rodgers are aiming for.

Would 49ers welcome Robert Saleh back (if Jets fire him)?

Across the country, San Francisco is employing a first-time defensive coordinator, Nick Sorensen, who'll be aided by former Los Angeles Chargers head coach, now-49ers assistant head coach Brandon Staley.

Inheriting a nearly intact defense that ranked third best in points allowed last season, Sorensen might turn into the next coordinator whose profile grows to the point where he becomes a head-coaching candidate in his own right.

Or, the decision to promote Sorensen completely backfires over the course of 2024.

If the latter comes true, and New York also fails to reach the postseason despite Rodgers' presence, Saleh could find himself in a situation where he's out of a job and the 49ers are again looking for another coordinator.

Should that be the case, it'd be perfectly logical for the Niners to consider reonboarding Saleh as their defensive coordinator, a position he held from 2017 through 2020.

But there are plenty of factors and X-factors waiting to be played out before that possibility is reached, including a Week 1 Monday Night Football showdown between Saleh's Jets and his old team, San Francisco.

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