DeMeco Ryans, the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator, is in a position most N.F.L. assistant coaches would covet. He leads the top-ranked unit in the league, his team is one win away from the Super Bowl, and he has been sought after by other teams looking for a head coach since the regular season ended.
Four teams with vacancies — the Arizona Cardinals, the Indianapolis Colts, the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos — have requested to interview Ryans, who is Black. All N.F.L. clubs are required to interview a minority or female candidate for head coaching positions because of the Rooney Rule, and in previous hiring cycles Black coordinators like Eric Bieniemy, who runs Kansas City’s offense, and Leslie Frazier, who commanded the Bills defense, were brought in by multiple teams but not hired by any.
Ryans is reportedly poised to field head coach job offers from multiple franchises.
It won’t be the first time Ryans is offered a top role. He was a candidate last year for the Minnesota Vikings’ opening, but turned down a second interview with the team’s front office, saying he wanted another year of experience coaching in San Francisco.
A former Pro Bowl linebacker, Ryans retired from playing after 10 seasons in the N.F.L. with the Texans and Eagles. Beginning in 2017, he spent four seasons as an assistant in San Francisco before taking over for Robert Saleh as defensive coordinator in 2021.
“I’m not just in it just to be a head coach and say, ‘Oh, I’m a head coach,’” Ryans said in a news conference in June. “If I do it, I want to be very successful at it and I want to do it for a long time. So it’s not about just jumping at the first opportunity, but for all of us, whatever opportunities we get presented in life, you want it to be the best for you where you can see longevity in it and make a lasting impression and be able to impact lives beyond just me.”