San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans declined a second interview with the Minnesota Vikings, withdrawing his candidacy to be their next head coach. This is significant, as Ryans is Black and his withdrawal comes on the heels of a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams citing racial discrimination in hiring was filed by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores this week.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 1, 2022
Did the Flores lawsuit have anything to do with Ryans turning down the second interview?
We can’t know for sure unless Ryans explicitly says so. But why would he? If he wants to be a head coach in the NFL one day, there is no upside to saying so.
Reports indicate that Ryans wants to continue to develop his skills and staying in San Francisco with the 49ers is as good a place as any. He’s only been the defensive coordinator for one season; some more time would be beneficial for his growth. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has a good football mind, being around the facility with him and the other assistants would also continue his development.
Shanahan said he was “proud” of Ryans for making the decision to remain with the 49ers.
“I’m proud of him for doing it,“ Shanahan said. “Minnesota is a great place, but DeMeco is a stud. DeMeco is going to be a head coach. He’s too good not to be, whether it’s this year, whether it’s next year, whether it’s any time. DeMeco is going to be a head coach, and I think helps all people the more experience you get at every position. It only helps you, makes you more prepared for when you get that moment. Not to say if he wanted it this year and he’s ready, but he’s only going to get stronger every year that he coaches regardless of what he is coaching.”
Shanahan saying “regardless of what he is coaching” is interesting. Maybe Ryans came back with the understanding that there is a development track for him that allows him to move up to associate head coach. He might have the opportunity to be involved on the offensive side of the ball, allowing for more perspective.
The reality is when anyone is hired you have no idea if they will be a good head coach or not. Being an excellent coordinator, contrary to what the NFL and its teams think, does not mean you’ll be an excellent head coach.
The head coach of a team is like the CEO of a company. A CEO needs to be able to talk finance and operations, but the nitty gritty of that is for the CFO and COO, respectively. A CEO or head coach’s job is about communicating the overall mission and vision to the team. It’s about leadership and putting your talent in a position to succeed in service of the ultimate goal or mission.
The NFL has a poor track record in believing anyone other than white men can perform that job, that’s the genesis of Flores’ lawsuit and what he hopes will change. In the meantime, guys like Ryans just have to plug along and develop their skills and hope they can impress when given the opportunity.
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