John McClain: Texans can’t let Ryans leave Houston without hiring him as their next head coach

September 18, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

John McClain: Texans can’t let Ryans leave Houston without hiring him as their next head coach

Hiring the 49ers’ DeMeco Ryans as the Texans’ next head coach will be the best decision the McNair family has made since Bob McNair paid $700 million to bring the NFL back to Houston to replace the Oilers.

There are reports in Denver that Ryans informed the Broncos he’s no longer interested in filling their vacancy. He already turned down opportunities to interview with the Colts and Cardinals. That leaves one team – the Texans, who should hire Ryans this week after he comes to Houston for a second interview, his first in person.

Happy days are here again!

The team’s decision-makers – Cal and Hannah McNair and general manager Nick Caserio – won’t hire Ryans because he’d be the most popular choice in franchise history, just ahead of Houston native Gary Kubiak in 2006. They’ll hire Ryans, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, because he’s the best candidate for the job – a hardworking, smart, fair, organized, and respected leader of men who’d be passionate about his dream job as the Texans’ head coach.

In his multi-hour Zoom interview with the Texans, Ryans stated his case for becoming the sixth head coach in franchise history, allowing him to return to the organization that made him a second-round draft choice in 2006 – the year Kubiak arrived from the Broncos. The McNairs and Caserio were impressed with everything about the interview, but they’re still going through the process more thoroughly than the last two years when they hired David Culley and Lovie Smith, both of whom were fired after one season.

If I’m Ryans’ agent, Jimmy Sexton, I’m demanding a six-year contract like Kyle Shanahan received from the 49ers when they hired him for his first head-coaching job.

Giants’ offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero have interviewed twice. After one year as a coordinator and play-caller, Kafka has attracted interest from four teams that have interviewed him. Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon told his bosses he’s staying with Philadelphia.

As far as Texans’ fans are concerned, Ryans should be hired Sunday night. With all the attention on Ryans, whose 49ers lost the NFC Championship Game to the Eagles, can you imagine what a buzzkill it would be if the Texans went in another direction? Yikes!

Ryans spent six seasons working his way up Shanahan’s staff. In his first two seasons as the coordinator who made the defensive calls, Ryans helped his team reach the NFC Championship Game twice. They lost to the Rams, the eventual Super Bowl winner, last year. They may have lost to this season’s Super Bowl winner on Sunday.

The biggest question fans will have concerns Ryans’ first offensive coordinator. After the offense took a huge step backward this season under first-year coordinator Pep Hamilton, Ryans has to hit a home run when it comes to replacing him. And the sooner Ryans is hired, the quicker he can start hiring assistant coaches.

The Texans know what they’re getting in Ryans as a defensive coach. In 2021, his first season as the 49ers’ coordinator, they finished third in defense, including seventh against the run and sixth against the pass. This season, they finished first in defense, including second against the run and 20th against the pass. They allowed the fewest points per game and ranked among the top four in 11 key defensive statistics. They also were first in turnover differential, fewest trips into the red zone, and fewest red zone touchdowns. They were second in takeaways and tied for first in interceptions.

What made the 49ers’ defensive performance even more impressive is Ryans didn’t have a starter at linebacker or in the secondary drafted in the first round by San Francisco. And it wasn’t like he had a sack machine like Philadelphia. Nine teams had more sacks than the 49ers.

At this time in the interview process, it’s crystal clear what the McNairs and Caserio should do – don’t let Ryans leave Houston without naming him as the Texans’ new head coach.

(John McClain writes four columns a week for 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

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