New Lions head man returns home to lift the organization up from the depths of despair.
What a narrative that would be, if present San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, a Dearborn, Mich., native took over as the franchise's next head coach.
The soon-to-be 42-year-old -- birthday is Jan. 31, 1979 -- is scheduled to interview for the Detroit head coaching vacancy Thursday.
Many Lions fans are speculating that the interview will be the start of a fruitful long-term relationship between the two sides, with Saleh ultimately becoming the team's next head man.
The popular sportsbook site Bovada shares the sentiment, as it presently has him as the odds-on-favorite to land the position.
Saleh, a product of Dearborn Fordson High School and Northern Michigan University, got his coaching start as a defensive assistant with Michigan State in 2002.
Before becoming the 49ers' DC in 2017, he also had stops at Central Michigan (2004) and Georgia (2005) as a defensive assistant, with the Houston Texans (2005-10) as a defensive intern, defensive quality control assistant and finally assistant linebackers coach, with the Seattle Seahawks (2011-13) as a quality control coach and with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2014-16) as their linebackers coach.
His role as the defensive play-caller on Kyle Shanahan's staff in San Francisco has brought him the most "critical acclaim."
He presided over a defense in 2019 that allowed just 19.4 points per game -- the eighth-fewest in the NFL -- and helped the 49ers reach their first Super Bowl since the team's 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
Fast-forward to 2020 -- a year in which the franchise experienced a myriad of injuries, including ones of the season-ending variety suffered by defensive playmakers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.
Despite the injury bug rearing its ugly head, the Saleh-led unit managed to allow the fourth-fewest passing yards (3,327) and the seventh-fewest rushing yards (1,703) this past season.
It's made him a hot commodity for not only the Detroit opening, but also several other head coaching vacancies across the league.
In fact, along with interviewing for the job in Motown, he's already interviewed for the Atlanta Falcons gig, and is set to interview for the N.Y. Jets vacancy Friday.
Additionally, he reportedly has upcoming meetings with both the Jaguars and L.A. Chargers.
If Saleh doesn't land the Lions job, it looks more and more likely by the day that he'll still be the head coach of one of the NFL's 32 franchises come Week 1 of the 2021 season.
And even if he is offered the position by Detroit principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood, there's no guarantee that he takes it.
The reason why: Taking over as the head coach of the Jaguars, Jets or Chargers is easily more advantageous for Saleh than taking the gig in Detroit.
In Jacksonville, he'd get the opportunity to draft and build around Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. And, in New York, he'd have the chance to pick No. 2 overall and to select -- just like in Jacksonville -- a future NFL franchise passer if he'd like to, such as Ohio State's Justin Fields.
Meanwhile, with the Chargers, he'd be picking No. 13 overall, he'd have a young franchise passer already in place in Justin Herbert and he'd have a much more complete roster to work with than in the Motor City.
So, while Saleh and the Lions appear to be a match made in heaven, it's far from a 100 percent probability that the marriage happens.
At this juncture, I place the odds of Saleh becoming the organization's next head man at 75 percent.
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