DeMeco Ryans, once a star linebacker for the Texans, will be Houston's new head coach

The Houston Texans caught a fortunate break. They needed a head coach, and one of the best candidates this cycle was a popular player from the team's past.

There might have been better head-coaching openings this cycle, but DeMeco Ryans and the Texans fit.

The Texans hired Ryans, who was the San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator, as their new head coach. Ryans was a fantastic linebacker for the Texans from 2006-2011, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year and making two Pro Bowls.

The team announced the hire on Tuesday after the coach agreed to a six-year deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

A key figure from the franchise's history now has the difficult challenge of turning around one of the NFL's worst teams.

DeMeco Ryans gets the Texans job

For a hot coaching candidate with no ties to the Texans, the opening probably wouldn't have been too attractive.

Ryans will be the team's fifth coach in four seasons, if you count Romeo Crennel's 12-game run as interim coach in 2020. The Texans fired David Culley after one season. Then they fired Lovie Smith after one season.

Ryans will presumably get more than one season. He takes over as the team is at its lowest point. The Texans are 11-38-1 the past three seasons. Despite such a poor record they have a few young stars to build around. The first priority is figuring out the quarterback position. Houston has the second overall pick of the draft, and is likely to draft a quarterback.

The one good thing about the Texans job is it's a mostly clean slate with a low bar for success. Any NFL team can turn things around in a few years with the right moves. Ryans could become a legend with the Texans, first for his play on the field and then as head coach if he can dig the franchise out of a miserable era.

DeMeco Ryans, who starred at linebacker for the Texans, will be the team's next head coach. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
DeMeco Ryans, who starred at linebacker for the Texans, will be the team's next head coach. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Ryans became a coaching star

Ryans played four seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles after the Texans traded him, then retired after the 2015 season. It didn't take him long to become a star in the coaching business.

Ryans joined the 49ers as a defensive quality control coach, and after one season on that job he was elevated to inside linebackers coach. When Robert Saleh left the 49ers to be the New York Jets' head coach, Ryans became defensive coordinator. He had two fantastic seasons leading the defense. The 49ers finished third in the NFL in yards allowed in 2021, and led the NFL in points and yards allowed this past season.

At just 38 years-old, Ryans was one of the hottest names in coaching. It was reported that the Denver Broncos had moved Ryans to the top of their list after being turned down by some big names, but Ryans apparently preferred Houston. He said the new position was his dream job in a quote released by the Texans:

"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 understand the responsibility I have to this organization and to the fans of Houston to build a winner and I can't wait to get to work."

The Houston job isn't an easy one, especially for a first-time head coach. The Texans are in a downward spiral of losing, but at least they have a new coach they can feel excited about.