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The Texans bring DeMeco Ryans home and make him their new head coach

HOUSTON (AP) — DeMeco Ryans was hired to coach the Houston Texans, which gave him his first head coaching job and brought him back to where he began his playing career.

Ryans joins the Texans from the San Francisco 49ers, where he spent the last two seasons as defensive coordinator.

He replaces Lovie Smith, who was fired after just one season in which the team went 3-13-1.

Ryans issued a statement thanking the 49ers, coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch for his time in San Francisco before looking ahead to his future with the Texans.

“Being the head coach of the Houston Texans is my dream job and my family is thrilled to be back in H-Town,” Ryans said. “I’ve played football my whole life and I’ve always had a natural ability to lead others. I know what it takes to win and be successful as a player and coach in this league.”

“We will build a program filled with players who have a special work ethic and relentless mindset,” he continued.

“I understand the responsibility I have to this organization and the Houston fans to build a winner and I can’t wait to get to work.”

Ryans, who was a fan favorite while playing at Houston, could help the team win back some fans who were disillusioned with the Texans’ direction as they struggled through three horrible seasons after winning the AFC South in 2018 and 2019 tormented in a row.

Houston’s most famous former player, JJ Watt, appears to support the move, with the recently retired defender tweeting a picture of himself with Ryans this week when the two played for the Texans.

Team owner Cal McNair vowed to be more involved in that hiring after the Texans fired their last two coaches after just one season. David Culley was fired after coaching the team through the 2021 season before Smith was hired.

“For so many reasons, DeMeco is everything we’re looking for in a leader and coach for our organization,” said McNair. “He has a proven track record of developing quality players and has consistently renewed his defensive system over the past six seasons at San Francisco.”

Ryans is the third consecutive black head coach for the team he hired in as many years. The Texans have been criticized for firing two black coaches after just one season with starless rosters and not much talent.

Ryans led a 49ers defense that led the NFL this season by allowing just 300.6 yards per game.

San Francisco was particularly good against the run, finishing second in the league by holding teams to 77.7 yards. That’s a stark contrast to Houston’s running defense, which ranked bottom in the NFL this season with 170.2 yards.

Ryans helped the 49ers to a 13-4 record in the regular season and the NFC West title this season. San Francisco reached the NFC Championship game before falling to Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Texans chose Ryans after they lost Denver defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Rams assistant head coach Thomas Brown, former Saints coach Sean Payton, Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, questioned Philadelphia offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and Detroit offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.

Ryans, 38, was a linebacker selected by the Texans in the 2006 second round. That season, he led the NFL with 126 solo tackles and won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

He spent his first six NFL seasons with the Texans, where he was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2009. Ryans started in all 16 games in five of his six seasons in Houston and accumulated 636 tackles, including 43 for losses and 8 1/2 sacks.

Ryans finished his playing career with the Eagles, where he spent the 2012-15 season.

Ryans has spent his entire coaching career with the 49ers. He was San Francisco’s inside linebackers coach from 2018-20 after spending the 2017 season as defensive quality control coach.

“DeMeco is a proven coach with a track record who has an innate ability to lead people,” said General Manager Nick Caserio. “He is progressive in his vision, a great communicator, a liaison and someone who values ​​collaboration.”

“We are working to build a sustainable program that will have long-term success, and DeMeco is the coach we believe is best suited to help us achieve our goals,” Caserio continued. “We know how important it is to get results now and we still have work to do, but I look forward to working with DeMeco to build our football team together.”

Ryans joins a team that has many holes to fill but has 11 picks this year, including the No. 2 and 12th overall pick.

Houston is expected to address his glaring need at quarterback with his first pick and could add a chunk to his defense with his other first-round pick, which the team received as part of Cleveland’s trade of Deshaun Watson.

Ryans becomes the sixth manager in franchise history and the first to play for the team.

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