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RUMOR: Browns made decision to hire Kevin Stefanski over Robert Saleh after 49ers-Vikings game

Kevin Stefanski, Robert Saleh, Browns

The Cleveland Browns head coaching vacancy came down to a two-man race between Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. It appears Cleveland used their NFC Divisional Round matchup to serve as the deciding factor.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the Browns made the decision to hire Stefanski after the 49ers beat the Vikings 27-10:

The Browns HC search came down to Kevin Stefanski and 49ers Robert Saleh, source tells me. Decision not finalized before their head-to-head matchup yesterday.

The reasoning behind their choice is certainly perplexing. If Cleveland was using this criteria to pick their next head coach, then Saleh should have been the obvious pick since his defense absolutely shut out Stefanski’s offense.

Minnesota managed to pull off quite the upset on the road versus the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card Round. Their success can be attributed to the balance that Stefanski was able to establish on offense early on. Unfortunately, he was unable to follow it up against the formidable San Francisco defense after Saleh completely eliminated the option of a ground game by holding running back Dalvin Cook too a mere 18 yards on nine carries.

Despite being clearly outcoached, it appears the Browns had already seen more than enough to give Stefanski their vote of confidence. After all, their top priority as an organization is the development of quarterback Baker Mayfield and are likely hoping an offensive-minded coach will be the solution this time around. Regardless, the timing of their hire will continue to raise questions heading into the 2020 NFL season.