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Falcons HC search: Five things to know about Robert Saleh

An in-depth look at what the Falcons could be getting in San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh

The Atlanta Falcons are conducting a thorough search to find their next head coach.

Team president and CEO Rich McKay is primarily overseeing the search and will consult trusted advisors before he and Falcons owner Arthur Blank reach a decision. It's unclear exactly how long this process will take, but there are already some candidates who have been linked to the Falcons.

As Atlanta continues to go about its search, we'll compile some of the more notable facts and information about each candidate reportedly in the running for the Falcons' opening.


Robert Saleh

Current title: San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator

Key NFL roles

Saleh just completed his fourth year as the 49ers' defensive coordinator. In his first three years with the organization, San Francisco's defense showed steady and impressive improvement. In 2019, the 49ers finished the year ranked No. 2 in total defense and No. 8 in scoring defense. Injuries took their toll on Saleh's defense in 2020, but the unit still finished ranked fifth in total defense. Prior to joining the 49ers, Saleh spent three seasons (2014-16) as the Jacksonville Jaguars' linebackers coach, and he was a defensive quality control coach with the Seattle Seahawks from 2011-13. Saleh's career in the NFL began with the Houston Texans where, from 2005-10, he had three roles: Coaching intern, defensive assistant and assistant linebackers coach.


10 notable players coached

San Francisco 49ers

  • DE Nick Bosa
  • CB Richard Sherman
  • LB Fred Warner

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • LB Paul Posluszny
  • LB Telvin Smith

Seattle Seahawks

  • LB Bobby Wagner
  • LB K.J. Wright
  • LB Malcolm Smith

Houston Texans

  • LB Brian Cushing
  • LB DeMeco Ryans

Overall team and unit success while in prominent role

San Francisco 49ers (2017-20)

2020 team record: 6-10

  • Yards per game allowed: 314.4 (NFL rank: 5)
  • Points per game allowed: 24.4 (17)
  • Sacks: 30 (22)
  • Takeaways: 20 (21)
  • Defensive Pro Bowlers: 1 (LB Fred Warner)

2019 team record: 13-3 (lost Super Bowl)

  • Yards per game allowed: 281.8 (2)
  • Points per game allowed: 19.4 (8)
  • Sacks: 48 (5)
  • Takeaways: 27 (6)
  • Defensive Pro Bowlers: 2 (DE Nick Bosa, CB Richard Sherman)

2018 team record: 4-12

  • Yards per game allowed: 346.6 (13)
  • Points per game allowed: 27.2 (28)
  • Sacks: 37 (22)
  • Takeaways: 7 (32)
  • Defensive Pro Bowlers: 1 (DT DeForest Buckner)

2017 team record: 6-10

  • Yards per game allowed: 351.6 (24)
  • Points per game allowed: 23.9 (22)
  • Sacks: 30 (26)
  • Takeaways: 20 (20)
  • Defensive Pro Bowlers: 0

Notable coaches worked under

San Francisco 49ers

  • Kyle Shanahan – head coach

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Gus Bradley – head coach
  • Doug Marrone – interim head coach
  • Todd Wash – defensive coordinator

Seattle Seahawks

  • Pete Carroll – head coach
  • Dan Quinn – defensive coordinator
  • Gus Bradley – defensive coordinator
  • Ken Norton Jr. – linebackers coach

Houston Texans

  • Gary Kubiak – head coach
  • Frank Bush – defensive coordinator
  • Richard Smith – defensive coordinator
  • Vic Fangio – defensive coordinator
  • Johnny Holland – linebackers coach

Telling quote

"So, offense, defense, special teams. It doesn't matter. It's the mindset of the person in charge that creates an atmosphere in which players compete and players fight for one another and players have a genuine love for one another, and that's what this building represents. So, all of the stuff that gets talked about with regards to that, just look at the leader in charge. You look at a guy like Kyle Shanahan, sure, he's [an offensive coach], but the man's a leader. The way he communicates with one another, with all of us, the way he communicates with John [Lynch] and vice versa and the expectations and the standards that he has is why he's an unbelievable head coach, not because he's a good play caller. It's because of what he represents as a leader and the way he communicates with us." – Robert Saleh on creating an effective team on both sides of the ball.


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Click below for a collection of names being reported as candidates for the Atlanta Falcons' open head coach position

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