49ers' Robert Saleh leading candidate for Lions, Jaguars, Falcons jobs

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Matt Maiocco
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Three teams interested in interviewing coveted 49ers DC Saleh originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers have already heard from three teams interested in interviewing Robert Saleh for their head-coaching vacancies.

The Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons gave the 49ers formal notifications of their interest in Saleh, general manager John Lynch said on Monday.

"I think Saleh will kill these interviews," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "I think he’ll do a great job. But it’s just one person usually making these decisions in each place, so nothing’s ever guaranteed. So I wish him the best of luck in all this, and we’ll see how it goes."

The 49ers wrapped up their season on Sunday with a 26-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks to conclude the season with a 6-10 record. Despite a rash of injuries, the 49ers' defense under Saleh performed at a remarkably high level.

The 49ers finished fifth in total defense (314.4 yards per game), fourth in pass defense (207.9) and seventh in run defense (106.4).

"We have a great coach in Saleh," Shanahan said. "And that’s why I think he’s going to get what he deserves."

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The 49ers are expecting Saleh to get hired to become a head coach, which would create a major vacancy on Shanahan's coaching staff. The 49ers would have plenty of options inside and outside the organization to take his place.

"I also know we’re going to be all right because of the people we have in-house," Shanahan said. "Because of the system and the players that we have, because of the options we have. How the Yorks (team ownership) treat us. There’s nothing that they’ll tell us we can’t do. So we’re going to be all right."

Linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans is likely the top in-house candidate to become defensive coordinator. Ryans, 36, was a two-time Pro Bowl player during his 10-year playing career with the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles.

He originally joined the 49ers in 2017 as a quality control coach before a promotion one year later to coach linebackers.

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"Of course, I’d consider DeMeco," Shanahan said. "It’s only a matter of time before DeMeco’s a coordinator in this league, and it’s a matter of time before DeMeco’s going to be a head coach."

Shanahan would not totally commit to a carryover of the same system if Saleh were to leave.

"It’s no absolute that we have to keep the same scheme," Shanahan said. "I love our scheme, so I’m not going to try to change it, either."

On Monday, the Los Angeles Chargers announced the firing of head coach Anthony Lynn. Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was a top choice of Shanahan for his staff in 2017.

Former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and Raheem Morris, who took over as Falcons interim coach, could be candidates for a potential 49ers opening. Kris Richard, a former NFL defensive coordinator who sat out from coaching last season, could also attract some attention.