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DeMeco Ryans Deserves Top Honors for the 49ers' Playoff Berth

A large part of why the 49ers are in the playoffs is due to the stellar work of DeMeco Ryans.

Playoffs were the expectation for the 49ers entering the season.

However, those expectations took a hit once they fell to 2-5 on the season. There was just no way anyone could believe the 49ers would turn it around and clinch a playoff berth.

But that is exactly what they did. Once they faced the Rams on Monday Night Football, everything started clicking for them. They found themselves as the talented and threatening team that they should've been from the start. 

Thanks to that, they have earned the right to be in the playoffs. While it takes the efforts of the whole team to make it, there are some players and coaches more deserving of credit for why the 49ers are in the playoffs.

DeMeco Ryans deserves top honors for the 49ers' playoff berth.

No area of the 49ers was more consistent and successful than the defense. While the offense and Kyle Shanahan were struggling, Ryans' defense held it down. Even now with the offense still prone to slow starts, it is Ryans' defense who holds firm to allow the offense to figure it out. It would be tough to imagine a scenario where the 49ers make the playoffs without the defense acting as the anchor of the team.

Ryans has the defense ranked statistically as top five or around it in practically every category. The craziest part of it all is that he is doing it in his first year as a defensive coordinator. Not to mention that he hasn't even been coaching the league for that long. 

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Usually it takes coaches years and years of experience to become a coordinator, especially a successful one. But Ryans hit the ground running, picking up where Robert Saleh left off. It is nothing short of incredible and impressive. 

Entering the season, the bar and expectations for Ryans seemed kind of high. To me, I thought any expectations of Ryans needed to be tempered. Filling in for Saleh, who was phenomenal for the 49ers his last two seasons, was not going to be easy. In fact, I expected some growing pains from Ryans, specifically when it came to making in game adjustments.

But Ryans completely blew the door off. 

He is adequate in every facet as a defensive coordinator. Because of that, no team in the playoffs will want to look forward to playing the 49ers. Dallas certainly isn't with how high-level the 49ers' defense is. It won't be long before Ryans follows in Saleh's footsteps in garnering head coaching offers.

"I've seen head coach qualities out of DeMeco when he was a player," said Shanahan. "When he was a quality control, when he was a linebacker coach and now when he is a coordinator. So he's always had those qualities, it's just about him getting the reps and getting the experience. It’s a matter of time with him."

Now, of course, Deebo Samuel deserves a chunk of why the 49ers are in the playoffs as well. Ryans isn't the sole reason for why they are in the playoffs, but I do believe he is the top and first reason, then followed by Samuel and other star players. Ryans deals with a whole side of the football, which gives him the edge on impact.

The 49ers should cross their fingers he stays for a while.