NFL Coaching Carousel: 49ers Lose DeMeco Ryans to Texans, Sean Payton Hired by Broncos

Two AFC teams have filled their head coaching positions and one of them has secured a top assistant from NFC West.

The Houston Texans, who have fired three head coaches in as many seasons, may have finally found the long-term answer. Ex-Texan linebacker DeMeco Ryans has quit his job as defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers to return to Houston as head coach. Ryans has agreed to a six-year contract and he will be tasked with reviving a team that has won just eight games in the past two seasons.

From 2006-2011, Ryans was a star player on the Houston defense, including two Pro Bowl selections and All-Pro honors in 2007. After finishing his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Ryans joined coaching in 2017 as an assistant of the 49ers and became an inside linebackers coach in 2018. When Robert Saleh took the New York Jets job, Ryans assumed the DC role and the 49ers defense finished 7th by DVOA in 2021 and numero uno this year. San Francisco will be selected for the 2025 third round, as this was a minority pick for a head coach position.

Meanwhile, former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton in the AFC West is on his way to Colorado to coach Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. Since Payton’s contractual rights belonged to New Orleans even after Payton left the team, the Broncos relinquished their 2023 first round pick (obtained from the Dolphins in the Bradley Chubb deal) and next year’s second round pick and received a 2024. third round pick alongside Payton.

I don’t need to tell you Payton’s story because you already know that he won a Super Bowl and famously lost as a double digit favorite against the 7-9 Seahawks. He is the best coach in Saints history and a brilliant offensive brain. Denver was an unmitigated disaster in 2022, resulting in the Seahawks getting the 5th overall pick, and the undisputed main focus for Sean Payton is repairing Russell Wilson after a career worst year. Either we get something resembling the Russell of yesteryear, or an irredeemably old Russell Wilson.

So for those of you who have long wanted to see a world where Wilson is coached by an established offensive spirit and not Pete Carroll or a legendary incompetent like Nathaniel Hackett, now is your moment. The Seahawks can’t squeeze any more picks out of the Broncos even if they tried, so all the attention we’re paying to Denver from now on is no longer tied to Seattle’s draft picks. Hopefully Wilson can turn things around because I don’t want the end of his career to end like this.

The Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts are now the only teams without a new head coach.

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