DC Ryans leaves Niners to become Texans’ head coach
SANTA CLARA >> The 49ers are in the market for a new defensive coordinator.
DeMeco Ryans, who took over the 49ers’ defense under Kyle Shanahan in 2021, agreed to become the head coach of the Houston Texans on Tuesday — which means there will be a new coach running the defense for the third time in four seasons.
Ryans’ deal was for a reported for six years.
Former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio could be a candidate to replace Ryans, as reported by Mike Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle. Steve Wilks, the Panthers’ interim head coach for much of this season, is set for an interview, according to the Charlotte Observer. Secondary coach Cory Undlin, who was previously a coordinator for Detroit, would be a likely internal candidate.
Ryans, 38, coordinated the NFL’s top-ranked defense in 2022, with the 49ers giving up just 300.6 yards and 16.3 points per game. Those figures came after a 2021 season when the 49ers finished third in total defense (310.0) yards per game and ninth in scoring defense (21.5). AWARD WINNERS >> Defensive end Nick Bosa was named the winner of the Len Eshmont Award, 49ers’ most prestigious honor, for inspirational and courageous play. Bosa also won the Matt Hazeltine “Iron Man” Award for being the most courageous and inspirational defensive player this season.
Fred Warner won the Bill Walsh Award, as voted on by coaches for professionalism. The Bobb McKittrick Award, in recognition of an offensive lineman’s service, went to center Jake Brendel. Purdy received the Thomas Herrion Award, in recognition of a rookie or first-year player who made the most of their opportunity. Juszczyk won the Garry Niver Award, as presented by the San Francisco chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America for professionalism and cooperation with the media.
BRONCOS GET PAYTON AS COACH IN DEAL WITH SAINTS >> The Denver Broncos have agreed to a deal with the New Orleans Saints that will make Sean Payton their head coach, a person with knowledge of the accord said.
The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams hadn’t announced the agreement, said the Broncos would send their firstround pick, No. 29 overall, in this year’s draft to the Saints along with a future second-rounder.
Payton remained under contract with New Orleans after stepping down from the Saints last season and working in broadcasting this season.
The Broncos, who went 5-12 this season and extended their playoff drought to seven years, fired rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett on Dec. 26 after he went 4-11. Interim coach Jerry Rosburg went 1-1.
Payton’s top task will be to get quarterback Russell Wilson back to his winning ways after the 11-year pro had his worst statistical season following his blockbuster trade from Seattle for four premium draft picks and three players. TITANS SWITCH TO NEW SYNTHETIC TURF >> The Tennessee Titans are tearing up the grass field at Nissan Stadium and replacing it with a synthetic surface before the 2023 season.
The team, which already has started work, is making the change after reviewing injury rates and knowing how difficult it is to grow grass at Nissan Stadium since it opened in 1999.
The Titans have led the NFL in each of the past two seasons for most players used, including setting a league record with 91 players in 2021 — most in a non-strike season — because of injuries.