The Houston Texans' hunt for a new head coach has reached its conclusion. The club has named former 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans to lead the franchise going forward, the team announced on Jan. 31. It is a six-year agreement, according to ESPN. Ryans becomes the franchise's eighth head coach.
Ryans had been considered one of the top coaching candidates during this hiring cycle and the Texans had emerged as the top landing spot for him over the last few weeks and leading into the NFC Championship game. Ryans was also linked to the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts head coaching jobs.
"I'd like to first thank the San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch for six incredible seasons where I grew as a coach and a man," Ryans said in a statement released by the Texans. "I couldn't be prouder of what we accomplished together, and I will always cherish the relationships I built there. Being the head coach of the Houston Texans is my dream job and my family is thrilled to be back in H-Town.
"I have been around the game of football my entire life and I've always had a natural ability to lead others. I know what it takes to win and be successful in this league as both a player and coach. We're going to build a program filled with players who have a special work ethic and relentless mindset. I understand the responsibility I have to this organization and to the fans of Houston to build winner and I can't wait to get to work."
During his introductory news conference, Ryans explained that the decision to come to Houston was an obvious one.
"When it came down to it, there is no place I wanted to be any more than H-Town," Ryans said (via NFL.com). "It was an easy pick for me. It was a no-brainer to be here, be home. It wasn't a difficult decision at all. It was very easy."
As CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones previously reported, however, there was some question by the organization, including team owner Cal McNair, whether or not Ryans would want the job, considering he once sued the Texans for negligence "due to the dangerous condition of the field" at NRG Stadium. But Jones dispelled that question, reporting that Ryans had Houston as his top choice in this cycle, which helped pave the way for this hire. That report was confirmed with Ryans' comments at his news conference.
Ryans got on the head coaching radar due to his work with San Francisco's defense, first as inside linebackers coach and then as the defensive coordinator for the past two seasons. His units have ranked third and first in yards allowed and ninth and first in points allowed during his two years as the defensive coordinator, and efficiency metrics like Football Outsiders' DVOA (seventh and first) and TruMedia's EPA per play (11th and first) also painted the picture of an elite defense.
Prior to getting into coaching, Ryans was a two-time Pro Bowler while playing inside linebacker for the Texans. He won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 while leading the NFL in solo tackles. He spent six seasons in Houston before being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played his final four years in the league.
For the Texans, Ryans is now their third head coaching hire in as many seasons. They hired David Culley in 2021 and fired him at the end of the year, then did the same with Lovie Smith in 2022. They have the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and figure to be in the market for a new franchise quarterback. With that player, and Ryans coaching up the defense, they could take some steps forward over the next few years.