The 49ers haven’t sent out an official announcement that Robert Saleh will be their defensive coordinator, but head coach Kyle Shanahan took care of confirming the reports earlier this week that the former Jaguars linebacker coach is going to be running their defense.
Saleh worked with Shanahan in Houston from 2006-09 and Shanahan calls the coordinator “as smart as anyone I’ve been around” in the NFL. Saleh went on to work for Seattle after leaving the Texans and then worked with former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Jacksonville, which leaves Saleh with a strong knowledge of what Shanahan calls “the true Seattle-Atlanta-Jacksonville system.”
“It’s a 4-3, which I think all of that is such semantics, to tell you the truth,” Shanahan said on KNBR, via CSNBayArea.com. “Seattle has a linebacker on the ball every single play. So does Atlanta. That’s five guys on the line of scrimmage. Whether you call it a 4-3 or a 3-4, for the most part, we call it a 4-3, just to tell you guys the way I look at it, as a coach. … It’s the same kind of fronts. In a 3-4, sometimes they one-gap, sometimes they two-gap. But we plan on having a linebacker on the ball. That’s five guys on the line of scrimmage. Depending on how our personnel plays out, I’ll have a better answer for what you want to call it.”
Personnel will obviously be significant for a unit that finished last in both yards and points allowed, although Shanahan’s offense can help out by putting the defense on the field less often than they were in 2016.