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Jets hire 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as new head coach

Robert Saleh, Jets, 49ers

The New York Jets have hired San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to be their new head coach. The deal, whose financial terms have not yet been disclosed, is reportedly for five years.

Saleh helped coach Kyle Shanahan lead the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV last season. Saleh’s defense outplayed Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense for three quarters before faltering in the fourth. In 2019, Saleh’s 49ers allowed the second-fewest yards and eighth-fewest points in the NFL.

Even though the 2020 49ers lacked star pass rusher Nick Bosa and several other starters, their defense remained tough and formidable to the very end of the season. The Niners finished a grueling campaign playing their December and January home games away from the Bay Area due to COVID-19 restrictions. Even then, Saleh’s defense smothered Kyler Murray in a win over the Arizona Cardinals, and contained Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks in Week 17. This is the coach the Jets are getting.

Saleh joins the Jets, who are likely to make a big upcoming transaction. NFL insiders believe the Jets will either trade quarterback Sam Darnold to make way for Justin Fields of Ohio State, or use their No. 2 draft pick as leverage.

The Jets needed a new head coach after crashing under Adam Gase, who mismanaged a 2-14 campaign in 2020.

After beginning his career with a 10-6 record with the Dolphins, Gase piloted Miami and now the Jets to four straight losing seasons, culminating in that rough 2-14 showing this past season.

The 2020 Jets were 24th in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed, so clearly the team needed a boost. Saleh will try to bring his success from the 49ers to the Jets, who have not made the playoffs since the 2010 season under Rex Ryan.

Saleh, 41, began his coaching career at age 23. In 2005, the Houston Texans made him a defensive intern. He became the linebacker coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. In 2017, the 49ers named him the team’s defensive coordinator. He will now try to take off as a head coach with the Jets.