The Houston Texans have found their next head coach, and it's a face longtime fans of the team will easily recognize.
The Texans have hired San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans to be the sixth head coach in franchise history, a person with knowledge of the siutation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because the team has not announced the hire."
Ryans, a former linebacker who played 10 seasons in the NFL, was selected by the Texans in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft and went on to play six seasons in Houston.
Ryans, 38, is Black and becomes the first person of color hired as a head coach or coordinator during this cycle. He joins Sean Payton, who is reportedly set to become the Denver Broncos next coach, Frank Reich, who was hired as the head coach of the Panthers, and coordinators Ryan Nielsen (Falcons), Jim Schwartz (Browns), Kellen Moore (Chargers), Mike LaFleur (Rams), Vic Fangio (Dolphins), Bill O'Brien (Patriots) and Nathaniel Hackett (Jets) as new hires.
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Ryans has been a rising star within the NFL coaching ranks, needing only six seasons on the sideline before becoming a head coach. His coaching career started in 2017 as a defensive quality control assistant with San Francisco, before he was elevated to the inside linebackers coach. He spent the following three seasons in that role. Then, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan promoted Ryans to become the team's defensive coordinator in 2021.
In his first season leading the 49ers defense, the team ranked third in total defense, allowing 310 yards per game and tied for 10th in scoring (21.5 points per game allowed). This past season, the Niners progressed and became a dominant force, leading the NFL in total defense (300.6), scoring defense (16.3) and tied for second with 30 turnovers forced.
Players such as defensive end Nick Bosa, who is the favorite to win the AP Defensive Player of the Year award, and linebacker Fred Warner, who has earned two all-pro nominations in the past three seasons, have shined under Ryans' tutelage.
"I hadn't thought about it up to this point because obviously you think you're going to win it all, but seeing him (after the game) was emotional," Warner said Sunday night after San Francisco's 31-7 loss in the NFC championship game. "It was the first time it kind of hit me that this was the last one with him. We came in this thing together. I owe everything to him. He's the reason I am the player I am today."
As a player for the Texans, Ryans earned two Pro Bowl nominations, in 2007 and 2009, and also won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2006 after he led the league with 87 solo tackles. He later played for the Philadelphia Eagles for four seasons to end his NFL career, which spanned from 2006-15. During his career, he recorded 970 total tackles, seven interceptions, 13.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and one defensive touchdown.
On Jan. 8, the Texans fired former coach Lovie Smith after only one season. He led Houston to a 3-13-1 record despite the team fielding a roster that lacked star talent at several positions. The only team to finish with a worse record was the Chicago Bears (3-14). Smith had replaced former coach David Culley, who was also fired after only one season in the role.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texans hire 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans as head coach
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