The New York Jets have named former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as their next head coach, the team announced Thursday night.
The move comes less than two weeks after dismissing Adam Gase from the position following two unsuccessful seasons at the helm of the team.
Saleh, 41, had a second interview with the Jets on Tuesday, having been flown in from San Francisco to meet with Gang Green’s brass. Speculation arose that a hire would not come immediately after he left team facilities without a deal being struck.
He also conducted interviews with the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers, and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Spending four years as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, Saleh rose up the reputational ranks around the NFL by putting together one of the top units in 2019, which laid the foundation of a team that won an NFC title before losing Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Despite a depleted roster amid the COVID-19 dominated season, Saleh’s defense still ranked in the top-10 in total yards (fifth), rush yards (seventh), and pass yards (fourth).
His head coach in San Francisco, Kyle Shanahan, fully expected to lose Saleh this offseason given his well-regarded reputation.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with people if they don’t hire him,” Shanahan said (h/t ESPN). “I mean, he’s as good as you can get. … And he’s going to hire the best staff. He knows about players. He knows who knows what they’re talking about. Who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. And he also knows how to deal with people. So, I hope everyone’s not very smart and doesn’t hire them so I can keep him. But, I’m expecting not to have him. But, we’ve got a lot of other good guys on our staff and I know there’ll be a number of options.”
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Saleh is expected to take passing-game coordinator Mike Lafleur with him to New York. Lafleur is the brother of Green Bay Packers head coach, Matt Lafleur.