Feb 2, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans head coach Demeco Ryans following his introductory press conference at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

John McClain: Ryans assembling impressive coaching staff

New Texans’ coach DeMeco Ryans is putting the finishing touches on his first coaching staff, and he’s made some impressive hires, especially on offense.

Ryans has hired Bobby Slowik as his offensive coordinator and Jerrod Johnson as his quarterbacks’ coach. After interviewing Kliff Kingsbury for the offensive coordinator job last week, the Texans made Slowik official even though it hasn’t been announced.

Slowik, 35, replaces Pep Hamilton, who was fired in the Lovie Smith purge after one season as the Texans’ offensive coordinator and play-caller. They finished 31st in offense, including 31st in rushing and 25th in passing.

Johnson, 34, is a Houston native who played at Texas A&M and spent a season with Ryans and Slowik in San Francisco working under first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan in 2017. Johnson was on a Bill Walsh fellowship for minority coaches. Johnson later coached three years with the Colts and spent last season as the Vikings’ assistant quarterbacks’ coach. He replaces Ted White, who was fired after one season.

Like Ryans and Johnson, Slowik started with the 49ers in 2017, Shanahan’s first season. Ryans and Slowik coached for six years together. Slowik, whose father, Bob Slowik, was a defensive coordinator with the Bears, Browns, Packers, and Broncos, was San Francisco’s passing game coordinator last season.

“Once I got this job and was hiring a staff, I knew how smart Bobby was,” Shanahan said recently. “He’d only worked on defense. I put him in (quality control) with DeMeco. Then he helped DeMeco with linebackers. They really hit it off. I could see how his mind worked and knew he was the type of guy that can learn everything we’re doing, so I kind of stole him from the defensive coaches and brought him to the offense.

“Within a year, I knew it was the right decision for both of us. He was so good from the start, and I can’t tell you how good he is now. He’s been through a lot with me. He really helped me out, especially this season.”

Before moving to the 49ers, Shanahan and Slowik spent three seasons together in Washington under Mike Shanahan. Slowik was a defensive assistant all three seasons (2011-13). He worked on a staff that included four future head coaches – Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay (Rams), Matt LaFleur (Packers), and Mike McDaniel (Dolphins). Shanahan, LaFleur, McDaniel, and Robert Saleh are head coaches who were on Gary Kubiak’s staff with the Texans.

After Washington, Slowik spent three years working with Pro Football Focus before Shanahan hired him. Slowik started in defensive quality control (2017-18) before being promoted to offensive assistant (2019-20), offensive passing game specialist (2021), and passing game coordinator (2022).

“Bobby’s one of the smarter coaches I’ve been around,” Shanahan said. “He’s able to listen to what everyone’s saying, take the information and understand it, and put it to use. I think he’ll do a great job for them.”

Losing Mike LaFleur, Matt’s younger brother, to the Jets and Mike McDaniel to the Dolphins allowed Shanahan to keep giving Slowik more responsibility.

“He was so impressive over there (offense),” Shanahan said. “His work ethic is crazy. He’d become DeMeco’s right-hand man, and then when I brought him to the offense, and we lost guys like LaFleur and McDaniel the last two years, Bobby moved right up. I felt we were as good this year (offensively) as we’ve been in my career, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”

Ryans and general manager Nick Caserio have to find a new quarterback for Slowik and Johnson. Davis Mills, who’ll enter his third season, is the only quarterback under contract. The Texans have the second overall pick in the draft. Currently, Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are the highest-rated quarterbacks. Will Levis is third.

Depending on how Caserio and Ryans have the quarterbacks ranked, they’re guaranteed of getting one of the top prospects they hope can become the franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson was in 2017 when the Texans selected him in the first round.

(John McClain writes four columns a week for GallerySports.com. He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on SportsRadio610.com).

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